ri Lankan cuisine has been influenced by many historical, cultural, and other factors. For example, the effects of the Dutch colonialists who once ruled Sri Lanka and brought their own cuisines with them; foreign traders who brought new food items; and the cuisine of Southern India have all helped to shape Sri Lankan cuisine. Today, some of the staples of Sri Lankan cuisine are rice, coconut, and spices. The latter are used due to Sri Lanka’s history as a spice producer and trading post over several centuries.
The central feature of Sri Lankan cuisine is boiled or steamed rice, served with a curry of fish, chicken, beef, mutton, or goat, along with other curries made with vegetables, lentils, or fruits.
Dishes are accompanied by pickled fruits or vegetables, chutneys, and sambols. Especially common is coconut sambol, a paste of ground coconut mixed with chili peppers, dried Maldive fish, and lime juice.
Kottu is a spicy Sri Lankan stir-fry of shredded roti bread with vegetables. Optional ingredients include eggs, meat, or cheese.
Hoppers (appa) are a range of dishes based on a fermented batter, usually made of rice flour and coconut milk with spices. The dish is pan-fried or steamed. The fermenting agent is palm toddy or yeast. Hopper variants can be either savory (such as egg hoppers, milk hoppers, and string hoppers), or sweet (such as vandu appa and pani appa). Savory hoppers are often accompanied by lunu miris, a mix of red onions and spices.
String hoppers (idiyappa) are made from a hot-water dough of rice meal or wheat flour. The dough is pressed out in circlets from a string mold onto small wicker mats, and then steamed.
A Dutch Burgher-influenced dish, lamprais is rice boiled in stock accompanied by frikkadels (frikadeller meatballs), a mixed meat curry, blachan, aubergine curry, and seeni sambol. All of this is then wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in an oven. Lamprais is ideal for special occasions with a large gathering of friends and family considering its richness and the time it takes to prepare. Effectively lamprais is cooked twice; first the rice and the entrees are cooked separately and later what is already cooked is wrapped in a banana leaf and baked in oven, which makes it a unique recipe.
Kool is a seafood broth from Jaffna containing crab, fish, cuttlefish, prawns, and crayfish. It also contains long beans, jak seeds, manioc, spinach, and tamarind. The dish is thickened with palmyra root flour.
Pittu are cylinders of steamed rice mixed with grated coconut.
Gothamba ma roti is a simple Sri Lankan flatbread usually made from wheat flour.
Variants of roti include thengappu roti (Pol in Sinhalese), in which shredded coconut is mixed into the dough. Another variant is Uraippu roti (spicy roti), in which chopped onions and green chilies are used when making the dough.