Sri Lanka has a culture spanning 2000 years, even before the events recalling the Mahabharata. Such an ancient civilization is bound to have profound cuisine that challenges the palate leaving you craving for more. And Sri Lankan food with influences from other cultures certainly lives up to these expectations. Being the leading cultivator and exporter of spices in the world, the Sinhalese use their seasoning with utmost care. They are known for the sweetest cinnamon, peppercorns that induce an immediate kick, tamarind, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and much more. The food handmade by local women is merely delicious. Sri Lanka's street foods are packed with handpicked masalas, an overdose of richness and flavour topped with decadent meat and slow-cooked vegetables. Galle face green is a one-stop shop for delightful street food in Sri Lanka.
Let's take a look at some of the popular Sri Lankan street food delicacies and where to find them-
1. Kothu RotiKothu Roti or Kottu Roti is a Sri Lankan – Tamil dish that originated in Jaffna in the 1960s. It constitutes cut-up pieces of roti infused in masalas of onions and tomatoes, topped with meat and eggs. Viewed as a midnight snack, this street food of Sri Lanka has variants in beef, chicken, mutton, egg, string hopper kottu, or dolphin kottu.
Seven-Eleven, 169A Galle Road, Colombo 3
Hotel de Plaza, St. Anthony's Road and Galle Road, Colombo 3
Raheema, 44 Thurstan Road, Colombo 3
Rahumania, CWW Kannangara Mawatha, Colombo 7
Rauff Nana, Galle Face Green, Colombo 3
2. Saravita and CoconutSri Lanka and its coconuts cannot be separated. Saravita is to the Sri Lankans what popsicles and cotton candy are to us. They are fresh coconut shavings, tossed in vibrant color and wrapped in a betel leaf. They are sold outside the beach and cinema theatre by hawkers. The simplicity of this Sri Lankan street food rests in its sweet taste, and once you have some, you cannot stop.
3. Hoppers, String HoppersThere is no breakfast over there without hoppers. Hoppers is a pancake batter infused with coconut milk and served with an egg and meat curries. Shaped like a shallow bowl, it is crispy on the outside and gooey in the center. String hoppers are a rice flour batter, squeezed into thin noodles and steamed. Both of these are street foods of Sri Lanka where hoppers are a little heavy on the stomach, and string hoppers are lighter since they are cooked. Every area has a local man selling these in the mornings, especially if you're staying in the towns.
4. WatalappamWatalappam is a Sri Lankan dessert introduced by the 18th-century, Malay immigrants. Made from coconut milk, cashew nuts, egg, jaggery, and a mixture of spices like cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg, Watalappam is a must-have street food in Sri Lanka. This coconut custard is airy, light, and not too sweet at the same time. It is a stronghold in the Muslim community and is part of a traditional Eid-al-Fitr meal.
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5. Isso Vadai or Prawn VadaiIsso Vadei is a spicy lentil cake either infused or topped with a prawn. This finger food/ snack has heaps of flavor and can be seen on street food stalls with hawkers that mostly come out in the evening after 6 PM. The crunch of the vadei and the smell of the seafood makes it the best you'll ever taste!
6. AchcharuSri Lanka loves its fruit and its spicy. What better than to combine the both of them for a street food snack! You will find Veralu (Ceylon Olive), Mangoes, Apples, gooseberries, and pineapples pickled in spices and served on a plate. As bizarre as it sounds, this street food in Sri Lanka is widely popular among the locals, and the salt and spices bring out the best flavor in the fruits.
7. Rice, Lentils, and FishTheir staple food being rice and lentils is made wholesome with fish and other seafood. The lentils are mildly flavored and topped with spicy dry-fried fish. This Sri Lankan street food is served as a full-course meal in big hotels and served with authenticity from the hands of the locals as street food in Galle face road. This meal with some masala chai is a match made in heaven.
8. Manioc ChipsManioc is a type of cassava like tapioca. Manioc chips are crispy, chewy, and sweet all at the same time. They are vertically cut and deep-fried seasoned with salt and mild spices. , and even local cinema theatres sell them popcorn. Once you begin eating them, you cannot stop!
9. Kibula BanisA dough composed of wheat flour, sugar, and water is commonly used to make the popular Sri Lankan snack known as kibula banis. The dough is then stuffed with a combination of coconut, onion, and spicy lentils and deep-fried till golden brown. Kibula Banis is frequently offered as breakfast food or as a snack. Look for stalls offering pastries in the shape of boats that are filled with a hot potato and onion mixture. In Colombo, some well-known kibula banis vendors are Sri Ambaal's and Gunapala's Bakery.
10. Malu PaanThe traditional filling for Malu Paan is a hot fish curry cooked with onions, green chilies, and spices. Flour, coconut milk, and yeast are combined to make the pastry, which is then baked till golden brown. Look for hawkers selling savory pastries on the street that are stuffed with hot curry made of fish and potatoes. Ahamu Malu Paan and Mohotti Malu Paan are two well-known malu paan vendors in Negombo.
11. PittuThis sweet, fluffy pancake, also known as "pittu," is often baked with rice flour and coconut milk. A sweet concoction of coconut, jaggery (palm sugar), and cardamom typically make up the filling. Pittu is frequently offered as a snack or as part of breakfast. Street hawkers of little, delicious pancakes stuffed with grated coconut and jaggery should be sought for. Amma's Sweet Pancakes and H. Sumanadasa and Sons are two well-known sweet pancake vendors in Colombo.
12. DosaPopular in Sri Lanka as well as South India, dosa is a South Indian meal. It is a fermented rice and lentil meal that has the consistency of a thin, crispy pancake. Various fillings, such as tangy chutney or vegetable curry, are frequently served with dosa. Look for street vendors who are frying thin, crispy crepes with spicy meat or veggie filling on big griddles. Dosa King and Galle Face Dosa are two well-known dosa vendors in Colombo.
13. LavariyaCoconut milk and rice flour are used to make the sweet dish known as lavariya. When fully prepared, the mixture is steamed in cylinder molds and served with syrup that is sweetened with jaggery and spices.
14. Pan RollThis is a fried roll that has spiced potato stuffing inside of it. Mash potatoes, onions, and spices like cumin and turmeric are used to make the filling. The roll is then deep-fried till golden brown and crispy.
15. VadaA lentil batter is used to make the deep-fried doughnut-shaped snack known as vada. It is frequently served with a hot chutney consisting of coconut and coriander. Look for hawkers selling savory, little doughnuts cooked with lentils and spices on the street. In Colombo, some well-known vada vendors are Mangos Indian Restaurant and Saffron Spice.
16. Roast PaanA common sandwich called a "Roast Paan" is made with roast beef or chicken, onions, and vegetables like bell peppers and carrots. It is frequently served with a hot tomato sauce and is placed on a soft bread roll
17. Pol RotiGrated coconut, wheat flour, and water are used to make the flatbread known as pol roti. It is cooked on a hot griddle until the outside is crispy and the inside is soft. Spicy curries are frequently paired with Pol Rotti. Look for hawkers selling tiny flatbreads made with flour and grated coconut. In Galle, some well-known pol roti vendors are Pol Roti Shop and Muthukuda Pol Roti Shop.
Must-Try Street Food Places in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, the cost of street food varies according to the cuisine and the area. A modest street food snack will often cost between 100 and 300 Sri Lankan rupees, and a larger meal can cost up to 500 rupees. Most street food vendors are open in the late afternoon and evening, while some may open as early as 4 or 5 pm and remain open until the wee hours of the morning. It is best to verify with the vendor or market directly for their precise timings because they may vary depending on the location and the day of the week.
These are only a few instances of Sri Lanka's well-known street food establishments. While touring Sri Lanka's cities and towns, be sure to keep an eye out for any more street food markets and vendors.
1. Aluthkade Street Food, ColomboThis street food market, which is located in Colombo, is a well-liked location to sample a variety of Sri Lankan Street food specialties, such as kottu roti, hoppers, and more. It's a terrific place to try a variety of foods all at once.
2. Kibulawala Street Foods, ColomboKottu roti, egg hoppers, and other typical Sri Lankan Street foods are available at this Kandy food market. It is a fantastic location to eat something quick while visiting the city.
3. Street Food Factory, ColomboThis Colombo Street food market is a well-liked location to sample a range of Sri Lankan and foreign street food delicacies. Burgers, hot dogs, and pizza are a few of my preferred foods.
4. Kailasa Café, ColomboThe vegetarian and vegan street food options on this Colombo café's menu, which includes falafel, hummus, and other favorites, are well-known. It is a fantastic place to pause for a balanced snack while touring the city.
5. 195 Galle RoadSamosas are generously filled with potatoes, onions, peas, and spicy masala covered with a pastry dough that after rolling is fried in hot oil. The specialty is the beef and mutton samosas, if not for the veggies! This street food in Sri Lanka is served with two kinds of chutney one, mint chutney with a dash of spice, and the other, our very own tomato ketchup. Many places across Sri Lanka serve samosas. At 195 Galle Road, the samosas are smaller and packed with flavors. They are made fresh and served in generous portions.
Words are sufficient to describe the taste, quality, and generosity with which the street vendors make their food. Sweet, spice and sourness are all well-balanced to create a fantastic meal in the street foods of Sri Lanka, and there is none like this in the world! You must also try all their coconut-infused curries for an amazing gastronomic experience.