The foods eaten by the people of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, an island nation in South Asia, has a rich and diverse culinary heritage that reflects its various cultural and historical influences. Over the past 500 years, the cuisine has been shaped by indigenous practices, Dutch and Portuguese colonization, and interactions with neighboring countries like India. Below is an overview of some foods and dishes that have been integral to Sri Lankan cuisine:

Staple Foods

  1. Rice: The cornerstone of most meals, often served with a variety of curries.
  2. Coconut: Used in many forms including coconut milk, flakes, and oil.
  3. Bread: Various types, influenced by European colonizers, such as roti and Portuguese-influenced bread rolls.


  1. Fish and Seafood: Being an island, seafood is a significant part of the diet.
  2. Chicken: Widely consumed, often in curry form.
  3. Beef and Pork: Eaten less frequently due to religious considerations, but still included in some regional cuisines.
  4. Lentils: Dhal curry made from lentils is a staple protein source.

Fruits and Vegetables

  1. Jackfruit: Eaten both ripe and unripe, and used in curries when unripe.
  2. Mango: Consumed as a fruit and used in chutneys and curries.
  3. Bananas and Plantains: Eaten fresh, fried, or used in desserts.
  4. Various Leafy Greens: Such as gotu kola, often used in sambols and salads.

Legumes and Nuts

  1. Chickpeas and other Pulses: Often used in curries and snacks.
  2. Cashews: Used in curries and eaten as a snack.

Spices and Seasonings

  1. Curry Leaves: Used to flavor many dishes.
  2. Cinnamon: Indigenous to Sri Lanka and used in both savory and sweet dishes.
  3. Turmeric, Cardamom, and Cloves: Frequently used spices.
  4. Chilies: Both dried and fresh varieties are used for heat.

Traditional Dishes

  1. Rice and Curry: A traditional meal with rice and an array of vegetable, meat, and fish curries.
  2. Hoppers (Appa): Bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk.
  3. String Hoppers (Idiyappam): Rice noodles often served with curries.
  4. Pittu: A mixture of flour and grated coconut, steamed.
  5. Kottu Roti: A dish made by stir-frying pieces of roti with vegetables and meat or seafood.

Sweets and Snacks

  1. Watalappam: A dessert made of coconut milk, jaggery, and spices.
  2. Kiri Toffee: A fudge-like sweet made with condensed milk.
  3. Curry Puffs: A snack of filled pastry, often with a spicy meat or vegetable filling.


  1. Tea: Sri Lanka is one of the world's largest tea producers, and tea is a popular beverage.
  2. King Coconut Water: A popular natural drink.
  3. Arrack: A traditional alcoholic beverage made from the sap of the coconut flower.

Foreign Influences and Modern Foods

  1. Dutch and Portuguese Influence: Dishes like Lamprais (rice baked in a banana leaf) and various breads have colonial roots.
  2. Indian Influence: Dishes like dosa and biryani have been adapted to Sri Lankan tastes.
  3. Modern Cuisine: With globalization, Western foods like pizza, burgers, and fried chicken are also available.

Sri Lankan cuisine is a vibrant blend of rich flavors, textures, and aromas, deeply influenced by the island's history, geography, and people. Over the past 500 years, this culinary landscape has seen an exciting amalgamation of traditional and foreign foods, making it a unique and diverse gastronomic haven.

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