Sri Lanka boasts a unique cuisine, shaped by the fruit and vegetables to be found in its abundant garden, and by recips, brought by traders, and invaders - Indians, Arabs, Malays, Portuguese, Dutch and English have all left their mark on the Sri Lankan diet.
Cusines in Sri Lanka can be very hotindeed, but adjustments will often be made to suit sensitive Western palates. If you find you have taken to a mouthful of something that is simply too hot, relief does not come from a gulp of cold water: that's like throwing fuel on a fire. Far better is a forkful of rice, or better stil some cooling yogurt or curd (buffalo yogurt), or even cucumber. Alocohol also dissolves chilli oil, proving there's method in the madness of the Birtish lager lout's vindaloo and there's method in the madness of the British lager lout's vindaloo and beer extravaganza. Another surprisingly effective strategy is to sprinkle plain grated cocounut, chilli and spices. Sambol is the general name used to describe and spicy-hot dish.
Rice & Curry
Sri Lankan rice and curry usually includes a variety of small cury dishes - vegetable, meat or fish. Chicken and fish or dried fish are popular, and beef and mutton are also available. Vegetarians won't have trouble finding tasty food - vegetable curries are made from banna, banna flower, breadfruit, jackfruit, mangoes, potatoes, beans and pumpkins, to name just a few. The usual Indian curry varieties are also available, including South India vegetarian thali and delicate North Indian biryani. From the nortnern Jaffna region comes kool, a boiled, fried and sun-dried vegetable combination.
Fish & Seafood
o Coastall towns have excellent fish (often served with hips and salad). Prawns are also widespread, and in Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna and Tangalla, to name but a few places, you can find delicious crab and lobster. In the south of the islanda popular dish is ambul thiyal, a pickle usually made from tuna, which is literally translated as 'sour fish curry'. Unfortunately, seafood is often spoiled by local attempts at catering to Western tastes.
Unique Si Lanka fods include hoppers, which are usually eaen for breakfast or as an evening snack. A regular hopper is rather like a small, bowl-shped panckae, skilfuly fired over a high flame and sometimes served with an egg fried into the middle or with honey and yogurt. String hoppers are tangled little circles of steamed noodles; usedas a curry dip instead of rice, they make a tasty and filling meal at breakfast or lunch. Apopular breakfast among Sri Lankans is fresh bread dipped in dhal or a cury with a thin gravy called hodhi.
Sri Lanka has a wide variety of delicious fruits: passion fruit, avocados and guavas (particularly the little pink variety which are like crispy pears) are just a few to be discovered and enjoyed. Try the sweet red banans or a papaya (pawpaw) with a dash of lime for a delicious wat to start the day. Jackfruit, the world's biggest fruit, may be eaten fresh or cooked as a curry. The fruit breaks up into hundreds of bright orange-yellow segments that have a slightly rubbery texture. The ubiquitous mango comes in a variety pf shapes and tastes, although generally in the greenskinned, peach-textured variety. The mangoes from Jaffna are considered by some to be the best.
Sri Lanka is famous for its tea, the bulk of the best stuff is exported. Most Sri Lankans drink a concocotion called 'milk tea' - tea, hot milk and sugar are mixed together before being poured into a cup. Beer, at around Rs. 120 to 150 a bottle, is an experience drink by Sri Lankan standards. Locally made Lion lager and carlsberg are the most common beers; Three Coins is less common. Popular local alcoholic beverages includes toddy, a natural drink a bit like cider. Local wine are pretty dire - syrupy sweet and made with imported grape juice. Alochol isn't sold on the monthly poya (full moon) holiday.