Standard Sri Lankan foods are spicy and it is advised
to approach curries with caution! There are many vegetables,
fruits, meats and seafoods in store for the intrepid traveller.
Continental, Chinese, Indian and Japanese menus are often
available in Colombo. A specialty is basic curry, made with
coconut milk, sliced onion, green chilli, aromatic spices
such as cloves, and nutmeg, cinnamon and saffron and aromatic
Fish and rice are the staple foods of Maldivians with
meat and chicken eaten only on special occasions. National
dishes include fried fish, fish curry and fish soup. Arecanut
(an oval nut chewed with betel leaf, cloves and lime) is the
equivalent of an after-dinner mint. Alcohol is only available
in tourist resorts. The local brew is raa, a sweet
and delicious toddy tapped from the crown of the palm trunk.
Apart from coconuts, there are very few fruits and vegetables
grown on the islands, so most of the food served at tourist
resorts is imported.
Tea remains a major export for Sri Lanka. It grows
on a bush and is pruned back to about one meter in height.
Groups of Tamil tea pluckers (all women) move through the
rows of bushes picking the leaves and the buds. These are
then 'withered' either in the old fashioned multistory tea
factories or in modern mechanised troughs. The partly dried
leaves are then crushed, which starts a fermentation process.
The art in making tea is knowing when to stop the fermentation,
by 'firing' the tea to produce the final, brown-black leaf.
Tours of tea plantations and factories are readily available
all over Sri Lanka. Popular factories you can visit include
The Dambatene Tea Factory, the Labookellie high grown tea
factory and the Pedro Tea Estate which are all
situated up in The Hill Country.
Seeni Sambol is one of the region's rare dishes that
is both sweet and hot. Although Sri Lankans like their food
to be spicy, sugar (seeni) is added to Seeni Sambol to give
it that special taste, and to take the sting out of the hot
Recipe for Seeni Sambol
Sliced Onions 200g
Maldive Fish 200g
Green Chillies 4
Ground dry Red Chilly 1 tablespoon
Coconut Milk 300ml
Coconut Oil 4 tablespoons
Sugar 2 tablespoon
1. Add the chopped green chilli and onion to the warm oil
2. Add the Maldive fish and continue heating.
3. Add the coconut milk, red chilly garlic salt and sugar.
Heat until most of the coconut milk has evaporated.
4. Serve with rice.
Note: Maldive fish is a tuna fish preserve made
in the Maldives. It should be available in your local Maldivian,
Indian or Sri Lankan shop. If Maldive fish is not available
you can try dried prawns. However it's possible to prepare
this dish without it. Dairy milk can be used instead of coconut
milk, but the real Sri Lankan flavour usually comes with the