Sri Lanka is indeed a land of fascinations. Its natural charms, rich culture and traditions, amazing festivals, the grandeur of the cultural attractions, opportunities for the deluxe of gambling, and what so not? All these facets together make this island a land like no other. Going beyond, the food culture in Sri Lanka also holds a significant place with regard. Practices passed from generation to generation have given it an exclusivity with amazing features. Moreover, the touches of the past colonial impacts have intensified its intricacy. Duly, the fine-tuned food culture of Sri Lanka offers you a delicacy that leaves you craving for more. Going beyond, there are many shades that enrich the food culture of this splendid island. Traditional and cultural food items, sweetmeats, seafood, and the list continues. Further, street food in Sri Lanka makes a great addition to this course as well.
Street food in Sri Lanka is simply something beyond food. It not only offers you the deluxe of great tastes. But also a fine reflection of the unfeigned Sri Lankan lives. They would enjoy street food while sipping a cup of plain-tea. Meanwhile, they genuinely unveil a significant portion of their lives as they gather around and gossip a bit. Thus, street food is more like the essence of a culture. Many are a part of it. Nevertheless, it is not only the Sri Lankans that love this culture. Of course, there are several overseas visitors who would choose to sit under the stars and witness this marvelous experience. Hence, if you are a tremendous street food lover seeking to know about street food in Sri Lanka, let us assure you that you have arrived at the perfect place! Continue reading to grasp the best of Sri Lankan street food.
Street Food in Sri Lanka
In brief, almost all the street food in Sri Lanka holds authentic Sri Lankan flavors. All of them are unique in their own ways. Yet, for the moment we just picked a few out of them considering their delicacy, popularity, and availability. They are as follows.
- Parippu vadai
- Isso vadai
- Uludu vadai
- Manioc Chips
- Potato Chips
- Fried Seafood
- Barbequed Meat
- Short eats
- String Hoppers
- Parata / Naan
Some of them are on-the-go snackable dishes. Meanwhile, some of the others are alternatives for main meals as well. However, all of them are absolutely capable of delighting you with fiery splices and creamy blends. Besides, some of you might be wondering what these food items really are. Why not? Let us get to know about them, and try to pick the best out of them.
What is the Best Street Food?
All the Sri Lankan street food items are best in their own ways. Thus, answering this question at a stretch is obviously a hard task. Sri Lankan street food is that much unique, delicious, and appealing. Still, we thought of sharing all about these scrumptious food items with you and letting you pick the best out of them. Isn’t it interesting? So, let us start this mission, by exploring the delight of this culinary expedition!
1. Parippu vadai
Parippu vadai is something like a lentil patty and is a fully vegan crispy snack. It is packed with proteins, and the flavors of the spices, garlic, and onions. If you stroll down a bustling street or walk around a junction in an evening, you would definitely find a few street stalls with parippu vadai. The vendor has the rounded portions of the lentil mixture prepared with them. When a customer requests for ‘parippu vadai’, they flat the thick paste a bit, and deep fry it. Finally, they would serve the customers with a golden brown bite-sized snack. However, the feeling of enjoying a ‘parippu vadai’ with a plain tea on a rainy day would be one of the perfect combinations that you could ever imagine!
2. Isso vadai
The base of ‘Isso vadai’ is more or like the same as Parippu vadai. Yet, it comes with a few prawns infused in it. Going beyond, some sellers even magnify its delicacy with a fine topping made out of onions, chilies, fresh carrots, and a spicy sauce. All these together bring out a magical flavor for this crispy snack. Same as ‘parippu vadai’, this is also available at almost all street stalls across the island. ‘Issso vadai’ is a perfect addition for a well-spent evening. Moreover, it simply has the power of fulfilling your hunger-pangs, just with its appealing seafood smells, and mouth-watering toppings. So, never leave Sri Lanka, without witnessing this bundle of tastes!
3. Uludu vadai
Simply, another member of the vadai family, yet with a few significant variations. At a glance, it looks like a doughnut. However, it is made with a mixture of fried lentils, onions, chilies, and other spices. As it is fried, it comes out as a savory fritter, with a crispy outer layer, and a moist core. However, Uludu Vadai couples well with a chili paste, spicy chutney, or a pol sambol. Moreover, it is more popular as a snack or an appetizer, yet some Sri Lankans prefer to have it for breakfast and dinner as well. Nevertheless, it is simply a fine piece of delicacy, that surely craves you for more.
4. Manioc Chips
Manioc chips are a fine pack of flavors and savors. They hold with them the magical power of mesmerizing anyone who tastes it. Thus, it is hard to find anyone who dislikes manioc chips. It is not only available in street stalls. It is popular as a snack at Cinemas as well. What the vendors do is they vertically slice the manioc, deep fry them and season them with salt, and chili powder. At the end of the process, they have in hand a ready-made crispy snack both spicy and sweet. If well packed, it can be kept for several days as well. Thus, many choose to get a few packs of them, to enjoy them little by little. After all, manioc chips are certainly a fantastic snack, that you cannot stop eating once addicted. So, this surely is a must-to-try, if you ever visit this splendid island.
5. Potato Chips
Indeed, one of the all-time favorites of Sri Lankan as well as overseas visitors. The golden crispy slices of potato chips served hot, with a sauce or a creamy gravy would be one of the perfect snacks for anyone to hunt for. Moreover, some prefer to have them as an appetizer or a side dish as well. However, most of the street food stalls make sure to fry them at the moment the customer makes the request. Further, many vendors never forget to season them with salt, and chili powders to intensify its magical tangs. Finally, they come into the hands of the street food lovers, as a hot and spicy crunch, that leaves them craving for more!
6. Fried Seafood
As you might already know, Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by blue waves. Thus, it is not a secret that the love that Sri Lankans have for seafood is never any less. So, if you are a seafood lover, street food in Sri Lanka never fails to delight you with its fine delicacies as well. Some of the most popular fried seafood items that you come across in the Sri Lankan street food stalls are as follows.
- Crisp fried prawns
- Crisp fried shrimps
- Chillie fried fish
Generally, the above deep-fried seafood items come with a thick coat of flavoury spices and cornflour. Thus, they hold with them the amazing power of fascinating anyone with their seafood aroma, golden looks, and crispy crunches. The vendors usually serve you a plate of fried seafood with a colorful and nutritious fresh vegetable salad, creamy gravy, or a spicy sauce. If not, you can either choose to taste these golden crunches plain, without those additions as well. Whatever it is, the flavors and savors of the fried seafood keep your taste buds fascinated for sure. So, it is certainly something that you should never miss enjoying on this island.
7. Barbequed Meat
Barbequed meat! If you are not a vegan, this surely happens to be a favorite of yours. Nothing to worry about, you can find enough and more barbequed meat while strolling down the streets of Sri Lanka as well. It is mostly the barbequed chicken that most of the Sri Lankan street food stalls will have. Yet, if you are lucky enough, you can even find a street food stall that would barbeque pork, mutton, beef brisket, or even turkeys. Whatever the meat you choose, together with their seasonings and the sauces they would offer you taste like never before!
8. Short eats
Despite the fact of whether it is a calm and quiet small city or a bustling larger city, you can always find short eats in any corner of this charming island. Most of them, hold a fine mixture of vegetables and spices, along with a crunchy texture. Some of the most popular short eats in Sri Lanka as below.
- Vegetable roti
Apart from samosas, and vegetable roti, almost all the other short eats pack with them a fine mixture of vegetables and fish. Once in a while, you can even find fish, beef, or pork samosas, and veggie-cutlets, roles, and patties as well. Still, the chances are rare. However, all these short eats remain a fine assortment of a perfect blend of flavors. Some stalls just offer you the food item. Meanwhile, some others offer them with gravy. Nevertheless, all these items are the perfect on-the-run snacks for anyone who would love a bit of spice. This also gives out another hint for you! If you are not that fond of spice, just think twice before you pick them. Sometimes, you would feel a bit hot with its peppery blends. Still, short eats would surely be a rewarding experience for your taste buds.
9. Fried Chickpeas
Fried chickpeas are simply one of the most popular finger foods among Sri Lankans. These salted and spiced grams never fail to amaze anyone with their stupendous flavorings. Fried chickpeas are available all across Sri Lanka. Some sell them in their street stalls, while some sell them in their carts, rather than the mobile street stalls. Moreover, it is common to find vendors and street stalls that only have chickpeas as well. However, they keep the chickpeas steamed all the time, further intensifying the cravings of the chickpeas lovers. Further, a plate of fried chickpeas couples well with a beverage. Going beyond, many choose it as a snack for gatherings and celebrations. After all, a plate of chickpeas would keep anyone who tastes it craving for more. Thus, it is surely a street food in Sri Lanka that should never be missed.
Kottu is a favorite of many. The youth in Sri Lanka, especially, have a special bond with kottu. It emerged in Sri Lanka in the 1960s, from around Jaffna. Yet, Sri Lankans all around the island, as well as tourists embraced Kottu with no time. Accordingly, it now remains a popular midnight snack, among the Sri Lankan communities. Kottu is a mixture of chunks of kottu roti, vegetables, onions, chilies, and various other spices. A vegan can simply go ahead with a plain kottu. Yet, Sri Lankan kottu covers a wide collection simply because of the toppings it uses. Therefore, one can choose his favorites among, chicken, seafood, mutton, egg, or even a creamy cheese kottu. Whatever the choice you make, we can guarantee that a kottu offers you a burst of appealing flavors that you can never imagine. Try it once, and you will never regret it!
11. String Hoppers
More than a snack, many Sri Lankans choose string hoppers for their breakfast or dinner. Thus, it remains one of the most popular Sri Lankan cuisines over hundreds of years. At a glance, it might look like noodles. Yet, they are well-steamed rice flour molded into addictive spirals. String hoppers, a gravy, and a pol sambol make the perfect match. Moreover, Sri Lankans never forget to integrate a cup of black tea with them, simply to magnify the essence of good tastes. String hoppers are practically available all around the island. Not only in street stalls, but also in luxurious restaurants as well. So, you have no excuses to miss enjoying this Sri Lankan delicacy.
Hoppers are simply an addictive pick to hunt for! With its crunchy edges and the softcore, it amazes anyone who would try it. Hoppers come in a variety of forms, as plain hoppers, egg hoppers, sweet hoppers, etc. Among them, plain hoppers and egg hoppers are the most loved. Going beyond a snack, Sri Lanka serves hoppers as a fine delicacy for breakfast and dinner as well. Further, hoppers accompanied by chutney, spicy curry, or pol sambol is simply a heavenly combination. Similar to string hoppers, hoppers also can easily be found at any of the street stalls, restaurants, and hotels as well. Let us remind you again, that its magical fascinations should never be missed. So, don’t forget to taste a bite of a hopper, before you leave Sri Lanka!
The authentic pol roti is a fine addition to the list of the street food items that you should hunt for in Sri Lanka. Simply, it is a type of flat-bread, that has grated coconut and flour as the main ingredients. Most vendors serve it hot-hot, in order to offer their customers the perfect experience. Further, many Sri Lankans make roti a substitution for breakfast and dinner. Apart from that, you can even choose to taste roti as a snack, or a tea-time assortment as well. Besides, pol roti paired with fish/chicken/pork curry, any other spicy curry, or a chili paste makes a stupendous combination. However, these combinations offered might vary from stall to stall. Still, let us assure you that pol roti with spicy curry on this island, is something that you would regret if missed!
14. Paratha /Naan
Paratha and Naan, are a bit similar in their looks. Still, they are quite different due to their baking patterns. Whatever your choice is, both of them offer you a taste of their own together with their side dishes. As same as roti, paratha and naan also go well with a spicy curry such as chicken, pork, or fish. Hence, many vendors offer you paratha, or naan, either with such a curry or gravy. Besides, paratha or naan can replace any of your main meals as well. Further, Paratha and Naan emerge in Sri Lanka with the touches of the Indian, or rather the Hinduism culinary styles. So, tasting a bit of them would indeed be a wonderful experience that is simply unique. So, whatever it is, never forget to witness the delicacy of this amazing food item if you wish to enjoy the delight of Sri Lankan street food.
Achcharu is simply an addictive salad, that would make you crave for more and more. In brief, it is a marvelous blend of all the flavors that you could ever think of. Spicy, chewy, sweet, and sour, all at what bite! Amazing, isn’t it? Further, achcharu comes with a wide variation. Mostly, you can choose your favorite among mangoes, pineapple, and apple. The chunks of these fruits coupled with the delightful flavors of the mixtures indeed offer an exotic experience. Some consider it an on-the-go snack. Meanwhile, some make it an astounding addition to their plate of rice. However, regardless of the time and the way you enjoy it, achcharu always delights you with its fantastic flavoring.
Something interesting! If you were wondering of anything sweet among the street food in Sri Lanka, take it easy. Of course, there are many delicious sweets out there in the showcases of street food stalls. Their appealing vibrant shades would leave anyone passes those carts, mouthwatering and staring at them. You can find below some of the most popular sweet street food items that you can hunt for on this land!
- Puhul Dosi
- Pani Walalu
- Gulab Jamun
Indeed, most of them might remind you about the ‘Bombay sweets’, or the classic Indian flavors. However, they are fine assortments of the most satisfying sugary tangs. Hence, they not only amaze you with their looks but also with their amusing amazing tastes. So, why not? Taste a sweet while strolling down the streets, and enjoy the delight of the sweet vibes of the street food in Sri Lanka.
17. Sarawita and Coconut
Sarawita and coconut are a fine combination loved by many villagers on this tropical island. It comes with vibrant colored fresh coconut shavings, delicately wrapped in a betel leaf. They are mostly available around street food stalls by the golden shores and cinemas. However, sarawita and coconut would make your taste buds swing with their sweet flavors. Once you enjoy it, simply you won’t feel like giving it up. Its amusements cannot be described with words. Thus, the delight of Saraswita and coconut should surely be witnessed by yourself!
Here comes something interesting. Up to now, it was all about food items. Why not? Let us get to know about a refreshing drink served at street stalls as well. If you have ever visited Sri Lanka, and by chance, if you strolled along the roads, you might have surely noticed some colorful liquids at the stalls by the road. Exactly, that is what we call Saruwath! So as their colors, their flavors do change as well. The widely available flavors are mango, pineapple, lime, strawberry, and rose. Whatever you choose among them, a glass of chilled Saruwath, would magically soothe you on a hot sultry day.
With that, we have reached the end of our wonderful culinary expedition! Yet, there might be a few more doubts that keep troubling you when thinking about enjoying this rainbow of Sri Lankan street food. Keep calm. The following Q&As would help you clear out all your doubts with regard!
Where to find street food in Sri Lanka?
In brief, almost everywhere! Vibrant streets with street food carts illuminated by electric light are not a rare sight in Sri Lanka. Thus, hunting for these authentic dainties is never a hard task. However, the following cities rule the world of Sri Lankan street food.
For your ease, let us highlight a few significance of these hotspots as well.
Street food – Colombo
As you might already know, the vibrant city of Colombo is the commercial capital of this tropical island. Moreover, exploring this city of marvels is indeed a fascinating experience. By chance, if you go on a road trip around Colombo, or if you stroll down its bustling streets, you would certainly come across a good number of street food stalls. Yet, there are several street food hotspots within this city, that would offer you the real authenticity of the street food culture. They are as follows.
- Galle Face Green – Colombo
- Aluthkade – Pettah
- Street Food Trucks
- Colombo Street Food Festival
All of them have a significance of their own! So, let us highlight them for your information!
1. Galle Face Street Food
What a mesmerizing experience would it be to sit by the blue waves, and to enjoy a few street foods under the wide blue skies? Galle Face Green is the ideal spot to witness this splendor yourself. It is more like a beach park, with a stage-like huge lawn by the sea. There are a good number of street food stalls out there, with a bunch of varying street food items. The best time to visit there is an evening or a night. Yet, it would be hugely crowded most of the days. Still, tasting the stupendous flavorings of Galle Face Green, amidst its cool breeze is simply a lifetime experience that you would regret missing.
2. Aluthkade street food
Visiting Aluthkade would surely make you gape in wonder. It is simply a culinary destination, with a bunch of street food stalls, and small scale restaurants and hotels. It is fascinating to watch how they satisfy the cravings of hundreds of Sri Lankans who would gather around them. The perfect time to visit this place is at midnight. If so, you will simply witness how these stalls keep the bustling city of Pettah more refreshing.
3. Food Trucks in Colombo
The splendid food truck culture is slowly growing around the major cities of Sir Lanka. However, as of now, it is Colombo that holds high popularity with regard. There are a number of popular food trucks, around this city, further enlivening its surroundings. Their ‘food on the wheels’ not only lures customers through their edible pieces of artwork but also through their appealing food smells as well. A few of the most popular street food trucks in Colombo are mentioned below.
- Thai Heritage Food Truck
- Kitchen 3576 Food Truck
- Crepe Runner
- Choco Love
- Corn Cart
- Street Food Factory
If you are planning to try out any of them, the following briefs about each would assist you in choosing what suits you the best.
Thai Heritage Food Truck
Simply the best for Thai Food lovers. It rests around the junction of the Havelock Town, Colombo, and its Green Curry Beef Combo, and the Cuttlefish Combo are the most popular. Their prices are a bit high when considered with a typical street food stall, yet they seem to be fair when considering the prices of the Thai cuisines in Sri Lanka.
Kitchen 3576 Food Truck
One of the best street food trucks in Colombo, with a wide range of food items for a low price. This truck is parked by the Marine Drive, a few miles away from Bambalapitiya. Its submarines, burgers, and the shawarmas are the most popular.
The ideal spot in Colombo for crepe lovers! You can find it on Marine Drive. Of course, it offers you a wide range of crepes, satisfying any of your cravings. Thus, choosing one out of them would certainly be a hard task. Anyway, why not? Visit it and choose the best yourself!
You guessed it right! They are Shawarma specialists. You would surely be amazed by the wide range of amazing sharamaz they offer. Yet, it is not only shawaramz that they have with them. Starters, to snacks to what so not? They have got them all covered, just for you!
As the name suggests, it is simply a world of Chocolates, especially for choco lovers. It has got a good number of amazing snacks. However, tasting its amazing choco-milkshakes would be a must if you pass by.
In brief, Corn Cart offers something special, for all corn lovers. You would either choose to taste plain corn, or else corns with a fine combination of varying flavors. However, you can find these corn carts, in various places in Colombo.
Street Food Factory
One of the most popular food trucks in Kollupitiya. It is well-known as a truck with quality food items for a fair price. They are not specialized for a specific food item. Yet, you can find enough and more stupendous verities of hotdogs, pasta, and many other snacks out there.
4. Colombo Street Food Festival
Colombo Street Food festival can never be missed, when exploring the street food culture of Colombo. It is a world of tastes and a paradise of fun. Hundreds of vendors from all around the island gather at Hospital Street, Colombo 01 every weekend of every month to join this exciting event. It creates perfect opportunities for the visitors to treat their taste buds in a way like no other while experiencing the innovative delicacies of the Sri Lankan vendors. The Colombo Street Festival is halted owing to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. Yet, we hope that it will go live very soon, with a set of brand new excitements.
Street food at Galle Fort
As you might already know, Galle fort is one of the significant attractions of the charming city of Galle. Many locals as well as tourists, choose it as an ideal destination to soothe themselves by the sea. Hence, several vendors gather around Galle fort, offering a delightful experience for whoever loves street food. So, if you ever visit Galle Fort, never forget to taste a bite of street food at Galle.
Street food – Kandy
The splendid city of Kandy is simply one of the alluring destinations on this charming island. Owing to the fact that thousands roam around this city, vendors have made it a paradise of street food. You can spot a good number of street stall vendors around the following places in Kandy.
- The main bus station of Kandy
- By the streets that lead to the Temple of Tooth Relic
- Around the Hakgala Botanical Gardens
Street Food – Jaffna
Jaffna is a city of splendors, that is now enlivening with several thousands of visitors from around the world. In brief, this city is more like the cultural paradise of Hinduism. Hence, the street food in Jaffna is enriched with the special touches of their culinary traditions as well. This simply reveals that the Jaffna street food would amaze you with a series of their own tastes. So, why not? Try some street food out there and discover their authentic delicacy. Street food stalls and small restaurants are everywhere around the main city awaiting to delight you with their delicacy.
After all, these are just a few highlights of the popular street food hotspots on this island. Wherever you go, you would never miss the opportunity of finding a few street food stalls at least. So, whatever your destination on this land is, tasting a few street food items is simply a must!
Is it safe to eat street food in Sri Lanka?
Yes, they are. Sri Lanka has a well-organized mechanism for scrutinizing the quality of the food stalls islandwide. Together with the Food Control Administration Unit of Sri Lanka, Public Health Inspectors play a vital role in this course. They not only regulate the food market on the island but safeguard its quality through sudden inspections and surveys. Hence, there is no doubt that street food in Sri Lanka is safe to eat.
Cost of Street Food in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan street food is best for your tummy, and best for your pocket as well. They are not that expensive. You can always find a number of food items that cost less than even 1 USD at authentic street food stalls. Yet, if you choose to try out some street food items at an up-market restaurant or a hotel, your bill would certainly sum up to a few dollars more.
The Bottom Line
The ties between Sri Lankan travel and Sri Lankan food are surely inseparable. When coupled together, they would create one of life’s greatest experiences. Yet, when the delicacy of the on-ground authentic street food pairs with travel, the fascination it offers can never be expressed with words. They not only create a gateway for a wonderful culinary escapade, but also for an exploration of Sri Lankan life’s most revealing moments. Hence, by traversing through the delicacy of Sri Lankan street food, you also grab its essence of a delightful culture. They are surely lifetime opportunities to cherish. Thus, never leave Sri Lanka without witnessing the quality, taste, and generosity it offers. Of course, they are the simple secrets behind the delight of Sri Lankan street food, that win your senses in seconds!