Monday, July 01, 2013

Not a Foodie Holiday in Sri Lanka

About two weeks ago, I visited our neighbour Sri Lanka for three days. I did not get much opportunity to taste authentic, local food because our group was busy touring. There was Sri Lankan food in the breakfast buffet in our hotel and on my request, a couple of dishes at lunch the next day, but they were not very different from what we eat here in India.

We got appams, egg appams (hoppers), red rice idiyappams (string hoppers) with dhal curry, and milk rice. We also tasted some sambols, especially the pol sambol, seeni sambol and katta sambol. For me, the pol sambol was no different from the coconut chutney made at home with red chillies and a bit of tamarind.

Here are some pictures from my Sri Lanka trip.

The beach at Bentota, where I stayed.

Plumeria/frangipani, which was everywhere

I don't know what this is but it was so beautiful - the stems holding the leaves were so thin that the leaves seemed suspended in air.

The beautiful Alpenia, from the ginger family

I always thought rambutan came from South-East Asia, I was surprised to see it growing wild here.

It was being sold in heaps on the street.

I'm told this is some kind of a mushroom, it's sprouting from a bench.

Lawariya, string hoppers stuffed with coconut and jaggery

This caught my fancy.

So did this.

Oil cake, or konda kevum, somewhat like the unniappam of Kerala

Athirasa, made of rice flour and jaggery

Walithalapa - it is sweet, but not sure what it's made of

Pol roti (foreground) and vegetable roti 

King coconut

Overlooking the fort are the various blues of the Indian Ocean

Cinnamon sticks, in a plantation

Cinnamon, shaved and laid out to dry

Processing the cinnamon

Just like India!

Palm sugar treacle - it's supposed to be a great delicacy eaten with curds

Outside a grocery store

Coconut-stuffed pancakes


Mixed greens mallum

The Bentota railway station - did you notice it is designed to look like a train?

Kalutara stupa

Kalutara vihara

Offerings at the Kande Vihara temple

The Buddha, said to be the largest seated Buddha in Sri Lanka, at the temple

The 18th century Kande Vihara temple, between Aluthgama and Beruwala in South-West Sri Lanka


  1. I would never have guessed those were cinnamon sticks if not for your pics on FB.

    1. Yes, they look pretty nondescript, don't they?

  2. Lovely photo essay. A whole new country and only 3 days - was it a business trip?

  3. ET, sort of, a hotel was our host, but it was all about sightseeing

  4. Hello Sra,
    The delicate plant in the 3rd photo from the top is the Maiden's Hair Fern and grows wild all across Kerala and Tamil Nadu along brooks and streams ,growing out of damp rock crevices. In the right environment they flourish as potted ferns. Yet, they refuse to thrive from transplanting from their natural habitat to pots. I tried but failed miserably each time.

  5. Hi Usha, yes, there were other ferns there too, which I'd seen before - I just googled this and found out it was an entire genus of ferns. Thanks for letting me know!

  6. Such beautiful photos! The food looks a lot similar to the South Indian things here, isn't it? Lucky you Sra. :-)

    1. It is similar, Sharmila, that's why I came away feeling I hadn't tried enough authentic Sri Lankan food. Maybe I was expecting too much!

  7. the coconut stuffed pancakes are very similar to bengali "patishapta". It looks the same, and I have a feeling it would taste the same. The cinnamons are amazing. btw did you watch peter kuruvita's "my srilanka" before going? he shows amazing srilankan recipes

    1. Hi Balaka, no, I didn't but I think the name popped up in a search when I was looking for info about Sri Lankan food. Yes, the cinnamon is a revelation. I've tried the patishapta with cream in it, not with coconut, this was thin, like a dosa.

  8. Yum, those rotis look too good! Never been to Sri Lanka, but have heard great things about it. Nice pics, everyone seems to be holidaying at the moment!!

  9. Sra! I love love love this travelogue... and I want some appams :):)


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