Kottu roti is a hearty Sri Lankan meal dish made of vegetables, eggs, meat, spices, and the pita-like thin Sri Lankan bread called the godamba roti.
To make kottu roti, all the ingredients mentioned above – egg, meat, vegetables, and bread – are chopped up with two metal blades and mixed together on a heated iron sheet. This clashing of metal on metal can be heard rising from many Sri Lankan restaurants.
Kottu roti is such a popular dish in Sri Lanka that there are even songs written about it.
Sambal is a spicy sauce made with chili peppers of various types, which range from mildly hot to atomic bomb. There are many different varieties of sambal in Asia – those with peanuts, shrimp, green tomatoes, even durian – but the most popular sambal in Sri Lanka is made with ground coconut meat. They call it pol sambal.
Pol sambal is made best with freshly ground coconut. Add some garlic and ginger pounded to a paste, some lime juice, pepper, and salt, plus fresh ground chili or chili powder (or both).
Serve it with rice and curry. Try not to forget your name as you eat!
Hoppers, or appam, are Sri Lankan breakfast fare, very much like bowl-shaped crepes, but they are made with coconut milk and, for some reason, are much more filling. Two hoppers make a substantial meal for one person.
Sri Lankans love hoppers so much, they have them in different forms, both sweet and savory – just like crepes. There are hoppers with soft-cooked egg in the center. There are plain hoppers, which go really well with curry. There are sweet hoppers, which have extra coconut milk and coconut cream added after the hopper is cooked. There are even hopper noodles.
Wattalapam is a very popular dessert in Sri Lanka. It’s basically a custard made with coconut milk, jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), cashew nuts, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and eggs.
This dish is made by mixing all ingredients together and pouring the mixture onto a caramel-lined mold, to be steamed until firm.
You can’t visit Sri Lanka without tasting the tea it is so well known for – Ceylon tea. Certainly, for a tea connoisseur, the taste of freshly brewed tea from freshly dried tea leaves is something worth savoring.
Black Ceylon tea is what Sri Lanka is most famous for; Sri Lanka’s green tea is less popular, as it is darker and richer than the Chinese green tea that the world is more used to.
Ceylon white tea is a highly prized tea made from the youngest tea leaves – indeed, the highest type of white tea is made from just the very first tea buds.
Ceylon white tea may be very expensive – a pound often costs around $50 – and it may not at all be what you are used to, but it is very easy to appreciate its delicate taste with notes of honey and pine. Indeed, it would be an awful shame if you left Sri Lanka without having tasted Ceylon white tea.