Five Sri Lankan Foods that I love and 5 that I hate

I love most Sri Lankan foods, especially curries. I have yet to dislike a vegetable curry here, even beetroot which I hated as a child.

Below, I’ve listed five of the simple foods that I could happily eat all day, every day!

1. Pol roti (coconut roti…like crispy flatbreads) – it’s delicious when fresh and I can eat unlimited amounts of the small ones with lunu miris (a very spicy onion and chilli chutney), pol sambol (see below) or just butter

Pol roti

Pol roti

2. Pol sambol – a grated coconut side dish which is a staple here in Sri Lanka. It is made with coconut, red chilli flakes, sliced green chilli, finely chopped onions, lime juice and salt. I even have this on sandwiches which makes my Sri Lankan friends laugh because it considered a poor mans dish to consume it this way. I think this tops my list – I can eat it straight out of the bowl, with pol roti, bread, rice, curry and even on pizza.

Pol sambol - the redder the spicier :-)

Pol sambol – the redder the spicier 🙂

3. Dhal – quintessentially Sri Lankan, just as pol sambol is. It can be eaten with fresh bread for breakfast, with rice and curry for lunch and poured over your take-away paratha roti at night.

Dhal

Dhal

4. Egg hoppers – simply delicious when cooked fresh with a sprinkle of black pepper. A crispy pancake with a fried egg in the middle. In my opinion best eaten half-boiled as they call it here (soft boiled)…then crack the crispy edges and dip into the egg yolk. Hmm. Simple but so special. I will blog more on the virtues of hoppers soon.

Egg Hoppers

Egg Hoppers

5. Pumpkin curry (aka Wattakka curry) – one of my favourites, it’s so tasty, not too spicy and super healthy. I love all veggie curries but this one is at the top of my list.

Pumpkin curry - delicious

Pumpkin curry – delicious

These are the one’s that I find horrid:

  1. Animal Body Parts — I don’t mind eating meat, but I draw the line at body parts. Sucking the marrow out of a bone, chomping on a fish head, rolling fish eyes around in your mouth before that disgusting bite which releases all the goo, chewing on offal etc. Yuk! I find it even more troubling that I’m usually offered these delicacies as a treat. Fortunately, my partner has come to know how I feel and he happily grabs the offending items off my plate, before I even get a chance to poke at it in disgust or our hosts notice!
  2. Curd — For one who loves cheese and normal yoghurt this troubles me sometimes. The smell of curd makes me want to vomit. I’m quite repulsed by the way Sri Lankans love gulping it down after a spicy meal. I think it’s the sourness…like milk gone off which induces a gag reflex in me.
  3. Dried fish (aka Maldive fish) – Sri Lankans love using dried fish to add flavour to curries (usually small sardine like fish) and sometimes even  as a main ingredient in the curries (chunks of dried tuna). Ewww. It is an overpowering taste. Can’t stand the smell or taste.
  4. Sri Lankan wedding cake – I honestly do not care how well or tastefully it is offered (you always get a little parcel to take home in a cute packaging design). Mine are always deposited into my handbag and given to the children I know at the soonest opportunity. Sugary gooey mess usually with marzipan icing. Absolutely disgusting.
  5. Malu paan (malu = fish, paan = bread) – a short eat (snack) staple and favourite of school children. Fish left-overs cooked with spices and potato and put into triangular sweetish usually very chewy bread. Why? Has an island nation has no better ways to use its abundance of fish? Give me a fish cutlet any day.
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26 Comments

Filed under Sri Lankan food & recipes, Sri Lankan life

26 responses to “Five Sri Lankan Foods that I love and 5 that I hate

  1. Any chance of posting the pumpkin curry recipe???

  2. magerata

    #1 looks like a kind of Pannekoek but have not tried them, yet. Love #3 and #4 and I thought #3 was a soup at the introduction / first time, slurped up like one to the surprise of the host and the rest at the table! I do not like pumpkins much but eat them when Mom makes Kabocha tempura.
    Being half Japanese, I eat a bunch of animal parts. I have no qualms about food as long as they are clean, I have trouble with the way food is prepared in SL and India.
    But it is Saturday eve, and I am off to a fun night, I am playing at a club (It is the pride weekend in San Francisco), watch my girl friend turn in to an angel, and perhaps have a beer.

  3. Thanks for your comments as always! Hope you had fun last night…a beer? Wow that’s you being a rebel right??

  4. totally love pol roti! and its so easy to make as well! my mom tends to add green chillies and red onions into them as well. disagree about the malu paan tho – maybe it just takes me back or that i like the sweet bread mixed with the spicy fish – but when its made right (soft fresh bread, tasty fish filling), its awesome.

    • Pol roti with onions, chillies and also curry leaves rocks. I’ll leave you to the malu paan though, it’s not for me.

      • N

        The quality of malu paans has really dropped these days around Colombo but we had some from a mobile bakery close to Kantalai that was absolutely amazing. Tank fish I think and soft, freshly baked bread. Amazing stuff.

      • Unfortunately I’ve not been blessed to try really fresh malu paan. The tough triangles that are sold in Colombo and my home town – Aluthgama…are pretty horrible. I find the bread too sweet as well which masks the fish taste. I guess most of these are mass produced and the sweetness I dislike comes from the additives that are added to the bread to keep it “fresh” for longer. The ingredients are all there to make a great snack – one which I often make at home (spicy fish mix: I use canned tuna, some mayonnaise and lots of black pepper, some green chillies and raw finely chopped onion and I just spread the tuna mix onto roast paan and there you go – a fantastic home-made malu paan.

  5. Hi Ankie – Try draining the curd in a cheese (chux) cloth line sieve overnight in the fridge. It’ll turn into a mild soft cheese – sort of like quark, or a labne……. I sometime use this in place of ricotta. you could even possibly crumb & deep fry it…..

  6. Have you tried eating the curd with treacle or sugar?

    • Yes and same reaction – I haven’t got a great sweet tooth anyway…note the absence of desserts on this blog. Much rather have a good cheese plate as a dessert.

  7. Pingback: indi.ca » Sri Lankan Food Blogs

  8. About the curd, good fresh curd is not sour _at all_. It’s very creamy with a hint of oiliness and you could eat it by itself. The mass produced stuff often is not, sadly. You usually find the really good stuff out station from small cottage industries. If you want good curd in Colombo the only place is the neon orange tinged NLDB outlet in Narahenpita just opposite the Police Hospital 🙂 Maybe it’ll change your mind

  9. I made your dahl and pumpkin curry served with rice and roti last night. They were absolute delish! And they passed Wal’s “tastes-like-authentic-Sri Lankan” test. Thanks to all the spices his friend Dinesh sends us. Keep the recipes coming…….

    • That’s great to hear. So often people don’t bother to actually make the recipes – instead just getting ideas and adapting them. Glad it was tasty and passed THE Sri Lanka test haha. Let me know if there are any specific recipes you would like to see. I have made a lot of curries and savoury dishes only missing out on Sri Lankan sweets and desserts mainly because I haven’t got much of a sweet tooth! x

  10. made a pumpkin veg as per your recipe -came out perfect-thanks
    howard in salalah

  11. Fanny

    You, Shockingly, made no mention or Durian!! The single-most gagofiled (my made up word) “food” on the island! Rotten onions soaked in century old gym socks for a treat, anyone? I dont think this was meant to be eaten……ever!

  12. Shenii DSilva

    Next time you have to taste freshly baked Malu Paan (Perera and sons bakers,Green Cabin, Sponge,Fab,Paan paan etc.Try these bakeries)………You will definitely scream..oh….WOW!

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