The cuisine of Sri Lanka draws influence from that of India, as well as colonists and foreign traders. Rice, which is usually consumed daily, can be found at any special occasion, while spicy curries are favourite dishes for dinner and lunch. A very popular alcoholic drink is toddy, made from palm tree sap. Rice and curry refers to a range of Sri Lankan dishes. Sri Lankans also eat Hoppers which can be found anywhere in Sri Lanka. Many Sri Lankans eat short eats as a snack which is a variety of hamburgers, hot dogs, Chinese rolls, patties and pastries. Also, Sri Lankan Chicken Waffles are popular.
As with many places around the world, much of Sri Lanka's urban areas now are filled with many American fast food corporations, such as McDonald's. Although many, especially elders and those who stubbornly stick to their cultural cuisine, reject this, many of the younger generation have started to take a liking to this new American cuisine.
Traditional Main Dishes
Sri Lanka's cuisine mainly consists of boiled or steamed rice served with curry. Another well-known rice dish is Kiribath, meaning 'milk rice'. Curries in Sri Lanka are not just limited to meat- or fish-based dishes, there are also vegetable and even fruit curries. A typical Sri Lankan meal consists of a main curry (fish, chicken, beef, pork or mutton), as well as several other curries made with vegetable and lentils. Side-dishes include pickles, chutneys and sambols which can sometimes be fiery hot. The most famous of these is the coconut sambol, made of ground coconut mixed with chillies, dried Maldive fish and lime juice. This is ground to a paste and eaten with rice, as it gives zest to the meal and is believed to increase appetite.
In addition to sambols, Sri Lankans eat mallung, chopped leaves mixed with grated coconut and red onions. Coconut milk is found in most Sri Lankan dishes to give the cuisine its unique flavour.
Sri Lanka has long been renowned for its spices. In the 15th and 16th centuries, traders from all over the world who came to Sri Lanka brought their native cuisines to the island, resulting in a rich diversity of cooking styles and techniques. Lamprais – rice boiled in stock with a special curry, accompanied by frikkadels (meatballs), all of which is then wrapped in a banana leaf and baked – is a Dutch-influenced Sri Lankan dish. Dutch and Portuguese sweets also continue to be popular. British influences include roast beef and roast chicken.
Sri Lankans use spices liberally in their dishes and typically do not follow an exact recipe: thus, every cook's curry will taste slightly different. Furthermore, people from different regions of the island (for instance, hill-country dwellers versus coastal dwellers) traditionally cook in different ways. Although Sri Lankan food is similar to south Indian cuisine in its use of chilli, cardamom, cumin, coriander and other spices, it has a distinctive taste, and uses ingredients like dried Maldive fish which are local to the area.
Sri Lankan food is generally much spicier than most South Indian cuisine, and many spicy Sri Lankan preparations are believed to be among the world's hottest in terms of chilli content. There is a liberal use of different varieties of scorching hot chillies such as amu miris, kochchi miris, and maalu miris (capsicum) among others. While native Sri Lankans are born into this cuisine and develop a healthy tolerance to spicy food, many visitors and tourists to the country often find the spiciness excessive. As a result, many local restaurants in developed and tourist areas offer special low-spice versions of local foods to cater to foreign palates, or have an alternative western menu for tourists. It is generally acceptable for tourists to request that the food is cooked with a lower chilli content to cater for the milder Western palette. The chili content in food cooked for public occasions is typically much less than home-cooked food.
Hoppers (appa) are another food native to Sri Lanka, served mainly for breakfast or lunch and often accompanied by lunumiris, a fiery hot mix of red onions and spices. Hoppers are made from a fermented batter of rice flour, coconut milk and a dash of palm toddy, which lends a sour flavour and fermentation ability. If toddy is not available, yeast is often used. The batter is left to rise, then cooked in a hemispherical wok-like pan. There are many types of hoppers including egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and sweeter varieties like vanduappa and paniappa.
Koola'ya is a dish made of a variety of leftover curries, mixed together with rice and often served at temples, with chapati. Its also served in a ball form, or even mixed in a blender.
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