In most of the places in Sri Lanka what you’ll probably eat is rice & curry, but if you’ll try a bit harder you can find a lot of divers drinks and dishes.
Ginger Beer: for sure one of Sri Lanka finest. This is a non alcoholic beer made of natural ginger. The two main brands are EGB and Lion.
Cream Soda: A sparkling drink with a horrible radioactive taste, which I recommend you’ll try just for the sheer experience.
Lassi: A yogurt based shake, which can be either sweet, salty or spicy. I focused mainly on the pineapple lassi and the mango lassi, my personal favorites.
Falooda: A sweet delicious drink with a pink color based on milk and syrup, and served with jelly cubes and ice cream.
Lion Beer: A nice beer which comes in a big bottle (650 cc). The lager is 4.8% alcohol and the strong Lion is 8.8%.
Toddy: An alcoholic drink made from coconut trees. We discovered the toddy while climbing Ella Rock, after we got lost and one of the locals, who didn’t speak a word in English, came to our rescue. He led us through a narrow path and asked us to wait in sign language. We didn’t understand why, but we waited. He came back with a big jerry can stuffed with a dirty cloth. He showed it to us and said “Toddy Toddy Alcohol”. My friend thought he said “Dirty Dirty Alcohol”, and used it to wash her hands… needless to say he was appalled.
Arrack: An alcoholic drink made from a distilled toddy. It is very popular in cocktails, usually with sprite or ginger beer.
Rice & Curry: The most popular dish in Sri Lanka, which is served in a different style in every place. The rice can be white, red or round, steamed or fried with vegetables. Some places will the rice with chicken curry, which is chicken with coconut milk, coconut cream, curry leafs, chili, cinnamon, cardamom and carnation, or fish curry, which is about the same, only with fish instead of chicken and a different amount of each spice. You can also get the dish in a variety of vegetarian styles: with beans, potato, yams, garlic and any other vegetable found in the Sri Lanka kitchen.
You can sometimes change the rice with String Hoppers - Round, steamed pancake made of white or red rice noodles, which goes great with every curry dish. The string hoppers are also great for breakfast with dal curry and sambal – meshed coconut with chopped purple onions, garlic, lime and chili. Sambal is my personal favorite dish in the Sri Lanka kitchen.
In some places the rice & curry comes with papadums, which are crackers made of flour and lentils or hummus that you eat with curry or chutney. My personal favorite was pineapple chutney.
Rotti: in the rotti street carts you can find a giant pan filled with dough, and by its side rolled up dough balls, which are made in a traditional technique of flipping and swinging the dough in the air. The rotti balls are filled with different stuffing such as vegetables (usually spicy), chicken (usually spicy), fish (usually spicy) or egg (well, you get the point). There was one place were my egg stuffing was without any chili, which was a refreshing change. But there are some sweet fillings, which I’ll mention in the dessert section.
Kotto Rotti: chopped rotti dough, Sautéed with vegetables, eggs and chicken. The rotti is chopped with special knives, that make so much they are dubbed “Sri Lanka drums”.
Pol Rotti: rotti dough with ground coconut, which makes the dough thicker. Usually eaten with dal curry or tomato salad.
Samosa: stuffed pastry, usually fried, with potatoes, lentils or other stuffing.
Wattalappam: a delicious local dessert, which is Sri Lanka’s answer to flan. A pudding made of palm tree sugar, coconut milk, eggs and cardamom.
Chocolate banana rotti: a rotti filled with banana and chocolate, or just banana with chocolate on top. Either way, its excellent.
Laviria: string hopper filled with raisons, cashew and honey. A great pastry for the early hours.
Dodol: a steamed cake with cinnamon and clove flavor, which takes 8-9 hours to make.