My favourite Sri Lankan curries and short eats

I miss Sri Lanka a lot. So every chance I get to try some Sri Lankan food, it takes me back home. The taste, smell, texture is unforgettable.

Following is a list of my favourite Sri Lankan foods.

Lets dance and have Kottu

Kottu is short for ‘Kottu Roti’ and is absolutely my favourite thing to eat. Whether in Sri Lanka or Sydney, I always get a chance to have some Kottu whenever I want.

Kottu is made with chopped up parata or plain roti mixed with all sorts of vegetables, meat and curry sauce. There’s a huge variety of Kottu’s available, from vegetable kottu’s, cheese kottu, meat kottu and even seafood kottu’s! Essential ingredients remain the same and you add whatever you wish to have in it and personalise. Isn’t that a great idea?

Pleasure of eating a Kottu is one thing. You gotta listen to how its done to get the whole experience…

This makes me wanna dance. Don’t you?

I find the Kottu mix varies from chef to chef as they find their own way and to make it special. Some tend to be just the roti, veggies and meat without the curry sauce and other add a lot more curry sauce to it, even cashew nuts just like the one I found in Christchurch by Ceylon Kitchen.

Kottu Rotti by Ceylon Kitchen, Christchurch New Zealand
Kottu Rotti by Ceylon Kitchen, Christchurch New Zealand

Not sure where to find Kottu in Sydney? Try Janani in Strathfield South or Kammadhenu in Newtown.

Kiri Bath (Milk Rice)

A traditional Sri Lankan dish made from rice (white or red) where ‘Kiri’ means ‘Milk’ and ‘Bath’ (pronounced ‘Buth’) means ‘Rice’.

Kiri Bath has become the most common dish among Sri Lankan’s made for special occasions including weddings and on new years day. It is prepared by cooking rice with milk, typically coconut milk.

Once cooked and set, cut into diamond shaped pieces where you can serve it easily. See the photo.

Kiri Bath
Kiri Bath

Kiri Bath is typically served with a couple of curries including a meat or a fish curry (fish being the preferred curry for new years), pol sambal (sambol) or lunu miris (a spicier version and bit wetter version of pol sambal).

You can even have it with some sugar making it a sweeter version.

Here’s a what we did for Sinhalese new year celebrations at home. Isn’t this lovely?

Kiri bath made for Sinhalese and Tamil New Year
Kiri bath made for Sinhalese and Tamil New Year (Photo courtesy of Charini Rodrigo)

Planning on making some Kiri Bath? Here’s a quick recipe Let me know how you went.

Chinese Rolls

Chinese? Well, this isn’t anything got to do with the origins but simply a means of what it is called. Sri Lankan style ‘rolls’ are completely different to what a traditional Chinese Roll in that the filling is covered in a pancake, coated with egg then breadcrumbs and deep fried. Sounds yum, yea?

#homecookedfood #yum #dinner #srilankanfood #srilankanstyle #chineserolls

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Like Kottu, filling can be just a vegetarian mixture or with meat. Sri Lankans generally use canned salmon as the meat option, but you can have chicken, beef or pork. Seafood mixes are also possible, but I’ve never come across it or heard of it being made. Let me know if you’ve had something else in the fillings.

I remember when I was young, my grandmother taking me to a take-away restaurant in Colombo where we’d have rolls and an iced coffee.

Have you had Chinese Rolls? Both Janani and Kammadhenu offer Chinese rolls. Or try this recipe by Whimsical Chef.

Pol Roti (Coconut Roti)

Similar to a thick tortilla, it is made with freshly grated coconut, white flour and water (plus salt). It is available at most road side shops throughout the day but is mainly consumed for breakfast or dinner.

Best way to enjoy some pol roti is to have it with a curry and some lunu miris. My favourite!

Does this make you moth watering?

I’ve made roti a couple of times and is quite an involved process. It is not easy to find fresh coconut in a big city so you can swap out it with desiccated coconut.

Tip: Add some hot water and milk to let the desiccated coconut re-hydrate before mixing.

I also remember having special pol roti with green chillies in it. That was the best I’ve had!

Here’s a quick video on how to make a few types of roti…

Rice and Curry

There’s nothing more common in Sri Lanka than a plate of rice and curry. It is available everywhere at any time of day and is the staple food preferred by young and old, rich and poor and is not to be missed if you are in Sri Lanka. During the week, packets of rice and curry (lunch packets) are sold for as little as Rs 100 and grabbed by hungry office workers. Past 1pm, you’d be lucky if there’s any left.

You normally get a plate of rice piled with a few vegetable curries and a choice of meat or fish curry including dhal curry. Some places also offer red rice which is a healthier version than the standard white rice option. I used to have fried rice as an option which also comes with chilly paste. Depending on where you get it, rice packets or plate will also come with papadam (or papadum), fried maldive (dried) fish and fried dry red chillies.

I had this yummy rice and curry plate from Ceylon Kitchen.

Plate of rice and curry by Ceylon Kitchen, Christchurch
Plate of rice and curry by Ceylon Kitchen, Christchurch

I can’t get enough of rice and curry. Have you tried any Sri Lankan curries?

Yellow Rice

Another favourite is the yellow rice where the rice is actually yellow. Turmeric powder added during the cooking process makes the rice yellow and typically uses the white rice type. Optionally there would also be raisins and cashew nuts making it extra special.

Not all curries go with the yellow rice. A typical set of curries done by my mother includes chicken curry, tempered potato curry with onions (dry curry), papadam and fried bitter gourd and onion salad. Yum!

Yellow rice and curry
Yellow rice and curry (Photo credit Whimsical Chef)

Like Kiri Bath, this is also made on special occasions or days and we used to have on weekends as a family meal. You can also have fish curry but I think chicken or beef curry goes very well with yellow rice.

Not all Sri Lankan restaurants offer yellow rice as an option and requires pre-ordering. So if you plan on having some do check their menu online. Kammadhenu offers an Indian version of yellow rice.

Here’s an easy recipe for you to try


A popular tea time (I’d have this anytime of day) savoury snack and is available at most mid to up-market take-away places in major cities. It is also a very popular party time snack.

Cutlets are very much like arancini balls without the rice in it and filled with a typical mixture of fish and potatoes. I hate making cutlets as it takes a lot of prep time but boy don’t I like the finished product. Its relative size makes it easier to eat in one mouth full so they disappear fast from the table.

Here’s what my brother-in-law prepared some time back.

Feeling like some yet? Try it yourself… or head to Janani (if you’re in Sydney).

Maalu Paan (Fish Buns)

Another popular and available anywhere-anytime short-eat is the mighty fish bun. Its a dough based triangle shaped bread with a yummy fish and potato mixture inside. Served hot, you could have this for breakfast or dinner or lunch!

I still remember having a couple of these after school on the way home. If not fish buns, it was vegetable roti 🙂

My brother-in-law is an expert fish bun maker! I’d employ him just to have some more made just like these…

Home-made Sri Lankan fish buns
Home-made Sri Lankan fish buns

Mostly available from the ubiquitous Sri Lankan street vendors, best way to enjoy it is over sunset with a cuppa.

Vegetable Roti

Somewhat similar to a fish bun, vegetable roti is also in the shape of a triangle (or sometimes rectangular) but instead of being a dough based bun, the mostly vegetable mixture is wrapped in a thin roti similar to an Indian parata.

Sri Lankan style vegetable roti
Sri Lankan style vegetable roti

I can’t remember making these at home, but very clearly remember having them on the way from school. I can easily have about 3 in one go.

Want to make some and invite me?

String Hoppers (Indi-appa / Idiyappam)

What in the world is this? Another famous and versatile dishes, string hoppers are made from rice flour pressed into thin noodle form (strings) and later steamed which effectively becomes the edible form. Not sure where the word hoppers came to be as the traditional word doesn’t translate to either of these words.

It goes well with any curry, specially dhal and chicken or fish curry and is usually available for breakfast and dinner. There is nothing wrong with having this for lunch but it is unlikely you’d find anywhere offering string hoppers for lunch.

We used to make them every week at home for dinner.


Home-made string hoppers with pol sambol, fish curry and potato curry
Home-made string hoppers with pol sambol, fish curry and potato curry

Thanks to my adventurous brother-in-law, we get to try a lot of Sri Lankan dishes in Sydney. All I have to do is rock up. Thanks Dilshan!

Why don’t you try and make some with this recipe


One of the best memories I have with pittu is that when I was little, we had pittu for breakfast at my grandparents place. It was like a ritual that in the mornings, I would go to the next door small shop and buy them for all of us. Back home, we’d have and kiri hodi, which is coconut milk gravy lightly cooked with some spices. It was a basic curry, but yum.

Sri Lankan Pittu with curries
Sri Lankan Pittu with curries

Pittu also goes well with any meat curries and adding some lunu miris will make it even better!

Want some kiri hodi?

Pittu isn’t the easiest to make, but if you are feeling adventurous you can give it ago. Here’s a quick recipe

Janani offers a range of pittu based dishes if you are in Sydney.

Feeling the heat?

Why not cool down with some King Coconut water?

#kingcoconut from the #pearl of the Indian ocea #srilanka

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Enjoyed the list? Leave a comment below or share your experience with Sri Lankan food.

My friend, the bride

Still recovering from jet lag, I still remember when my friend told me she’s decided to finally tie the knot. At first, I was happy, then I did question it a bit in my own way. Why? Because I knew she loved her independence, freedom, parties, travels, etc.

We’ve been friends for 11 years now, and we did have our ‘I hate you’ moments. I still have a laugh looking back. We became friends in the last year of our bachelors degree, and we crossed our paths again at work. At work, we used to gossip so much during lunch time. Those were the good old days.

We often chat about her decision, what I think, and whether she would lose her freedom, and so many other things. Of course, getting married is a big deal. She and her husband to be met through their parents, she living in Dubai and him living in Melbourne it was obviously an arranged marriage. I should mention that its not a hard arranged marriage as such as in an Indian context, but a light one where she could still say no. I knew she would have done that if she thought he wasn’t the right choice. But they did decide to…

When I got my save the day card and I was excited. I wanted to book the flights straight away, buy a fancy suit, and look up where I would stay. But things are not so easy if you have other travel plans (wink), so it made things a bit difficult. None the less, I knew I had to change whatever plans I had, book a trip to Colombo and attend the wedding. Time went by, and she kept consulting me on different things such as the dressmaker, the wedding band, but I had no clue. All I could do was give the names of those whose done my sisters and the bands they had. Sri Lankan weddings are a big business and you usually invite 300+ people so there is a lot of prep work to do, other than just worrying about your own dress and makeup.

I hear #wedding #bells in #srilanka

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A few weeks before the wedding, I got my invitation. Had my flights booked, the hotel booked and all planned out. I was contemplating between spending more time in Sri Lanka and going somewhere else before/after, and ended up going to Thailand before the wedding and just getting to Sri Lanka for the wedding. Its something I do regret now as I had sunburns before the wedding which was not a good thing. And to top it off, carrying a suit around was a pain.

I stayed in Colombo the night before the wedding avoiding rush hour commute to the morning wedding. Somehow, although close, I was a bit late than I expected to be there in the morning clicking away, managed to get there just in time where the bride is being ushered by Kandyan dancers. Kandyan dancers in weddings, particularly sinhalese weddings is both traditional and symbolic. Its just like playing ‘here comes the bride’ at any western wedding but more dramatic. There’s the noise, there the traditionally dressed dancers, everyones attention on the bride, and target achieved.

Then its time for the traditional ceremony to take place. It usually involves a stage which is a couple of steps higher than the floor, called ‘Poruwa’. Celebrant takes over the ceremony and performs the rituals which takes about 30mins to 1 hour (depends if you want to rush it and get it over with or have the long version). Once the poruwa ceremony is over, couple is traditionally wed, but for legal reasons they still have to register the marriage which took place a while later. Once the traditional ceremony was over, it was time for the glamorous and western style bits, where the champaign, the music, the selfies, the toasts.

Its #wedding time! #srilanka #srilankanwedding #colombo #poruwa #poruwaceremony #poruwawedding #friends

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We had allocated seats, but at one time I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t know anyone to talk to. I knew where I was going to sit, but there was no one in the table and it had been two hours since I’ve arrived, the main ceremony was over and the couple was now going around and talking to the guests. I did expect to see some old friends which I knew were invited but no one seems to be there. Trying to hide the fact that I was alone and no one to talk to, I pretend to take photos around the place in order to keep myself busy.

It must have been around 11.30 by the time some familiar faces arrived and I was in much relieved state. Gossip can start flowing, giggles to take over and more banter to follow. I haven’t met my long time batch mates after moving to Australia and we had a lot to catchup on.

#happy #snappy in #srilanka #wedding #friends #colombo

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Lunch or Dinner is usually part of the wedding and it was soon lunch time (and I was starving!) and was a Sri Lankan style buffet affair. Couple opened the extravagant menu and we followed. I was hoping to try out a lot of Sri Lankan style dishes but I was soon full with just one plateful and it was spicy.

My long time friend is now married, blessed by their parents and the guests. I’ve met my old friends, giggled and detailed passed. Enjoyed a sumptuous buffet, had traditional sweets, clicked photos, took selfies, group photo taken. It was a long day, a happy day, an important day to my friend, new connections made, and a promise to meet very soon in a familiar land, I say Adiós to the new couple and my friends to my next destination…