Best Sri Lankan Street Food & Where to Find Them

A trip to this warm tropical island is never complete until you sample some of the delicious local cuisine available along the streets of Sri lanka. It is impossible to take a stroll through any town, especially in the late evening, without being hit by the aroma of savoury goodies frying in fragrant coconut oil. Nor will you be able to escape the tell-tale clatter of metallic pans as you pass street-side eateries open from evening till the wee hours of morn. Here we bring to you the holy grail of street food, the absolute top 3 that you would not want to miss while you are travelling in Sri Lanka, and where to find the best renditions.

Also known as Kottu Roti is essentially a curry laden mish mash of cut up rotis, sauteed with vegetables, eggs and a meat of your choice. Once this mix reaches a level of cohesive perfection, it would then be liberally doused with just enough gravy for the roti pieces to soak up.

Over the years, the simple Kottu has evolved to include more decadent additions, giving way for the ‘Cheese Kottu’, the same product as above, now smothered in a cheese sauce. Pilawoos Hotel in Kollupitiya takes credit for the original invention of the Cheese Kottu which was instantly replicated by every other kottu joint. You can find more inventive versions available at the nearby Hotel de Plaza and more sophisticated takes even at 5 Star Hotels.

Isso Vadei
This ever-popular fritter-like snack comes to Sri Lanka with some South-Indian influence but over a period of time has gotten Sri Lankanized enough to make it right to the top of the Sri Lankan snacks list. Made with ground lentils, mixed with spices, curry leaves and lots of green chillies, the final flourish on Isso Vadei is a topping of a whole prawn (or multiple prawns) which gets deep fried along with the Vadei batter. Resulting in a crispy spiced prawn crowning a delicious deep-fried lentil fritter. Possibly the most common street-side snack in Sri Lanka, and you are likely to find a few vendors within any given area. While there are varied additions to this snack, the most popular accompaniment is the ‘sambal’, a fiery onion relish that goes on top of the prawn just before disappearing into your mouth. The Galle Face Green in Colombo is a hotspot for Isso Vadei served at little ocean-side stalls.

From the street of Sri Lanka to the fine dining restaurants of the world, the humble hopper is an irresistible snack for all. This crispy bowl shaped crepe is made in a special bowl-shaped pan and requires considerable skill to perfect. The two most popular types of hoppers are plain hoppers and egg hoppers. In the latter, an egg is cracked into the half-cooked hopper and allowed to firm up slightly. The egg hopper then serves as a dipping bowl, where plain hoppers can be dunked in the well-seasoned runny yolk. In recent times the hopper has been jazzed up to include toppings that include anything from cheese to meats and even chocolate sprinkled dessert hoppers. Hopper stalls can be found along any busy street or the best restaurants in Sri Lanka. Try the Cafe on the 5th or the Palmyrah Restaurant in Colombo 3 for some of the best hoppers you could find while you are here.

Monday June 28, 2021