Food & Drinks in Sri Lanka

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Since Sri Lanka is a multi cultural country, you cannot expect anything less when it comes to Sri Lankan food. Our country is filled with its regional flavours while the cuisine is known for a rich combination of rice specialities, spices, herbs, seafood, seasonal vegetables and fruits and of course, legumes.

Culture plays a pivotal role in the food scene in Sri Lanka while many Sinhalese food items are derived from the chena cultivation. From the most celebrated and auspicious Sinhala and Hindu New Year to various day to day events and celebrations will see an array of traditional Sri Lankan meals ranging from milk rice, sweetmeats and spicy curries for accompaniments.

Many of these dishes are centred around the main staple rice, rice flour and coconut while seafood also plays quite an important part in Sri Lankan cuisine. Most Sri Lankans prefer vegetable curries while the main go-to meal in any part of the island is the good old “Rice and Curry”. The curries have immense flavour and colours which are derived from a list of Sri Lankan Hot Spices. These spices not only add great flavour to the food but also adds ayurvedic value to the dish.

Since Sri Lankan food is regionally diverse, you can expect the same dish prepared in various methods and with different flavours. For an example, the dishes from the South of Sri Lanka have a distinctive quality and is mainly amalgamated with seafood. “Ambulthiyal” is a unique spicy fish preparation that uses a thick gambooge (goraka) paste while the preparation in the South is different from the other parts of the island.

Hot and Spicy, tangy and sweet are the main flavours that you can explore whenever you are on a food trail in Sri Lanka.

Milk Rice
Rice and Curry
String Hoppers
Weli Thalapa
Pani Walalu
Mun Kawum


The Sri Lankan food and drink sector manufactures and supplies both alcoholic beverages and non-alcoholic beverages year-round. Without a doubt, it has been able to distinguish itself at the international level and obtain significant recognition. Beverages generally include various tea varieties, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, king coconut bottled soft drinks, and coffee.

Sri Lanka is home to a spectacular variety of superb tropical fruits that is reflected in the variety of juices available. As they are year-round fruits, fresh papaya, pineapple, and lime juice are always excellent. Soursop and wood apple are two more unusual alternatives worth trying. One of the most popular and widespread natural drinks is King Coconut (the golden Thambili) – always pure, straight out of the nut, it is extremely refreshing. Herbal drinks are quite popular among the locals too.

As one of the world’s biggest exporters of high-quality tea for over a century, Sri Lanka is home to the finest in the world and Sri Lankan tea is referred to as ‘the best tea in the world’. From the golden brew to the splendid aroma and vibrant flavours, Sri Lankan tea varieties cater to every taste and style. Furthermore, local tea manufacturers produce and supply a variety of tea such as black tea, orthodox tea, and flavoured tea to the local and global marketplace. However, the highest quality varieties are generally exported.

Alcoholic beverages are widely enjoyed by Sri Lankans – especially males. Beer is the most sought-after alcoholic beverage due to its popularity and strong taste. Moreover, wine has had its fair share of popularity throughout the years. There are several traditional alcoholic drinks. Toddy is one of the most traditional alcoholic drinks in Sri Lanka. It is made by fermenting the sap of a coconut palm. Thus, it has a white appearance with a sweet, characteristic flavour. Another popular traditional alcoholic beverage is Arak which is a distillation of the juice of a palm tree or from coconut toddy. It is often enjoyed with soda, coca-cola, cold water or ice cubes.

Coffee production and consumption in Sri Lanka goes back to the nineteenth century when coffee plantations were formed in Ceylon under British rule. Since then, coffee production has played a major role in forming the national economy until the last quarter of the nineteenth century. At present, coffee is no longer a main contributor to the economy although it remains a source of revenue. Presently, Sri Lanka is catering to an international clientele via the high-quality varieties of coffee grown in Sri Lanka. Hot coffee is typically served in Sri Lanka for breakfast, late at night, or on cold rainy days. The most common varieties include Arabica coffee, Robusta coffee, and Liberica coffee.