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Madame Mahsa Travels

A foodie's guide to Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA | Friday, 10 July 2015 | Views [804]

If you're like me, food is more than just fuel while travelling. You don't just grab a bite between sightseeing, you're constantly searching for the next food experience. There's a 'food' tab in your travel spreadsheet and your travelling style is more food safari than road safari. You're a travelling foodie – a troodie.

Recently, I was lucky enough to take a food tour through Sri Lanka. The food here is surprisingly diverse; and contrary to popular belief it's not all just rice and curry. I also found out that while the gourmet scene is growing, especially in tourist hot spots like Galle, Kandy and Colombo, the best part about Sri Lankan cuisine is the home-style cooking.

So, here it is: my 'best of' list for all those hungry travellers planning a trip to Sri Lanka. You lucky things! 

  • Ditch the toast for breakfast and feast like a local with Pol Sambol – a mouthwatering shredded coconut and chilli 'salad' – and Rotti. You can get a decent serving pretty much anywhere, but Da Silva's in Nuwara Eliya would be my top pick. Their traditional pastries (like cheese rotti and onion buns) are bang on as well. 

  • Start your day with a touch of good karma by trying some Kiri Bath, which is white rice cooked in fresh coconut milk. Sri Lankan Buddhists believe that the boiling over of milk in a clay pot brings prosperity. If you're in Sri Lanka on a Poya Day, get up early and visit a Buddhist temple to catch pilgirims make a Kiri Bath offering to the Buddhist society. 

  • Usually I stay away from tourist-hyped eateries, but Downtown Rotti Hut in Ella is an exception. We ordered a couple different varieties of their Kotthu Rotti dish and couldn't leave without trying some of their crepe-style chocolate and banana rottis. 

  • Also in Ella, try Lamprai – a rice, veggie and curry dish cooked in a banana leaf. Bypass the crowds (and tourist prices) at Chilli and give one of the other restaurants on the main strip a go. There's a great place (forgot the name!) with lip-smacking Lamprai just two doors down from the Rotti Hut. 

  • Rice and curry is the staple dish in Sri Lanka. It's tasty, filling, cheap (a couple dollars, or 200-300rp) and on every menu. Mama's Fort in Galle was a real highlight though. Mama's special roasted curry powder is the secret to the amazing flavour, and her mango chutney and vegetable curry dishes are a stand out. Mama also offers cooking classes, which includes a trip to the local food market.

  • For the past couple of decades the northern cities of Sri Lanka, like Jaffna, have been synonymous with civil war, but with peace restored to the area that's about to change. You won't see many tourists here (yet) so chances are you'll have the spice trail on the main road all to yourself, and you'll be free to mingle with the locals at the popular fruit and veg markets near the bus depot. But what you want to try here is the famous Jaffna chilli crab. 

  • Hydrate with the ubiquitous orange king coconut. You'll find a coconut kiosk around every corner in most parts of Sri Lanka. 

  • Watch the sunset in Galle with an EGB ginger beer or Lion Lager, and for the perfect snack order a bowl of dry roasted cashews with chilli spice and curry leaves.  

Do you have a favourite foodie moment from Sri Lanka? What did I miss? Share your comments below!

Tags: cooking, food tour, foodie, sri lanka

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