Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sri Lankan Food - A Photographic Diary

As you may know, I have just spent three blissful weeks exploring the beautiful country of Sri Lanka! Beautiful scenery, wonderful people and delicious food! But of course, this is a food blog - so lets get to the food!! I took a few pics along the way so that I could share with you the great curries, I also took a cooking class in Unawatuna so that now I can make these delicious curries at home!


You won't be surprised to hear that Sri Lankan food is centrally curry and rice. Finding vegan food is very easy in Sri Lanka, as "Vegetable Curries and Rice" are on every menu and they are naturally dairy free - often using coconut milk and cream as their base. When you order vegetable curry and rice, you don't pick your curries, they just bring out a selection of vegetable curries, chutneys, sambals, papadums and rice.

Clockwise from top: dhal, chokoe curry, cabbage and kunlun, whole cooked garlic cloves, beetroot sambal, papadums

L-R: papadums, dhal, tomato curry, potato curry

Clockwise from top: okra curry, rice, chicken curry, tomato and cucumber salad, pumpkin curry, manioc curry

The above vegie curries on my plate.

Fried noodles with pineapple chutney and chilli paste

Unsurprisingly, Sri Lankans also eat curry for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner. Most of the guest houses we stayed in offered an option of ordering Western Breakfast (eggs, toast, jam, tea/coffee) or Sri Lankan Breakfast (curry, hoppers of some kind, curries, tea/coffee). I've always been a fan of eating savoury foods for breakfast, as I just don't really like many of the breakfasts typical of Western countries, so I actually loved the curry for breakfast - although we didn't manage to do it every day for three weeks! I admit we had to go for toast some mornings.

A Sri Lankan breakfast of rice & coconut milk squares, hot onion sambal and bananas.

A Sri Lankan Breakfast of potato curry, chicken curry and string hoppers

A Sri Lankan breakfast of string hoppers, rotti, hoppers, coconut sambal and an egg hopper (with 2 curries in the background)

Egg curry and dhal

My friend's Western Breakfast - for those who don't feel like curry first thing in the morning!

A rare opportunity to get "moosly"

You could also buy King Coconuts on the side of the road anywhere in Sri Lanka, to drink and eat the small amount of soft flesh inside.

(not me)

The spoils of our amazing Sri Lankan cooking class in Unawatuna, for more details check out this post here!


  1. Yum, banana pancake with 'tricle'!!

  2. Omg I love these photos! I am so hungry right now and I would love to eat these yum yums!

  3. Hey Keely, I read you are not 100% vegan all the times, so I figured asking you how do you see for a 100% vegan travelling 3 weeks thru Sri Lanka?
    I read many posts and articles that it is pretty hard and you have to be prepared to eat always "the same thing" (rice curry), but apparently, judging from your pictures there are different versions of it?
    I COULD eat three weeks the same, tho food makes also for a good holiday, but I'm mainyl worried about having a proper varied food intake that can guarantee all the nutrients to me!
    thank you so much!

    1. Erik, I know because we ate almost every meal vegan without even trying. I also know because we took a cooking class on how to cook traditional curries and every one of them (except the fish curry) was already vegan, we didn't even have to ask.

      As for eating the same thing, you will find that in Sri Lanka everybody eats curry and rice for almost every meal. If you are a vegan or not, you are likely to be eating a lot of it. I wouldn't worry about variety though, it's not as though the curry and rice is the same everywhere - curry is a very diverse dish. We had different vegetable curries everywhere you went. You can see in my pictures how many different types of vegetable curries we ate. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be getting all your necessary nutrients.

      For me, eating three weeks of traditional local cuisine is part of my idea of a good holiday. But if you're worried about eating "the same thing" then I'm sure your guest house will offer some Western options for people who don't want to eat curry all the time. This wasn't really a problem for us.

  4. If you are a strict vegan I would suggest asking if there is milk and dairy in it as they use a lot of ghee in their cooking and normal milk to make the curry milder and creamier. They use ghee to cook all curries including dahl, they put ghee in rice (unless it is plain).

    1. As I have said, my experience of eating all the curries there is that this is not the case.