The Most Popular Sri Lankan Food: Exploring the Rich Flavors and Vibrant Cuisine

Choose the food you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 4, 2023 09:19)
Welcome to StrawPoll, where your opinion shapes the rankings! Are you a food connoisseur with a penchant for Sri Lankan cuisine, or simply curious to know more about the exotic flavors from the Pearl of the Indian Ocean? Then, gear up to embark on a culinary journey as we bring you a mouthwatering ranking of the most popular Sri Lankan food. Be it the scrumptious Kottu Roti, the tangy Fish Ambul Thiyal, or the ever-comforting Egg Hoppers, it's time to cast your vote for your ultimate favorite or suggest a hidden gem that deserves a spot on our list. So, let your taste buds do the talking and help us uncover the finest tastes of Sri Lanka. Join the ranks of thousands of foodies and make your vote count!

What Is the Most Popular Sri Lankan Food?

  1. 1
    Rice and Curry is this is the staple food of Sri Lanka, consisting of rice served with a variety of curries made with vegetables, meat or fish. It is the most popular and common dish in Sri Lanka, and can be found in almost every restaurant and home.
    Rice and Curry is a traditional Sri Lankan meal that is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It is a combination of cooked rice and a variety of curries, typically served together on a plate or banana leaf. This dish reflects the diverse culinary heritage of Sri Lanka, incorporating flavors and spices from various regions.
    • Main ingredients: Rice, curries
    • Variety of curries: Usually includes vegetable curries, meat or fish curries, and lentils
    • Flavor: Spicy and aromatic
    • Accompaniments: Papadum (crispy lentil wafers), pickle, chutney, and sambal
    • Presentation: Curries arranged around a mound of rice
  2. 2
    Hoppers is a popular breakfast food, hoppers are a type of pancake made with rice flour and coconut milk. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and are usually served with a spicy sambal or curry.
    Hoppers, also known as appam or aappa, are a popular type of pancake or bread-like dish in Sri Lanka. They are mainly made from fermented rice batter and coconut milk, resulting in a fluffy and crispy texture with a slightly sour taste. Hoppers are typically enjoyed as a breakfast or dinner dish, both as a savory or sweet option.
    • Shape: Hoppers have a bowl-like shape with a thin and lacy center.
    • Ingredients: The main ingredients used to make hoppers are rice flour, coconut milk, yeast, sugar, and salt.
    • Fermentation: The rice batter is usually fermented for several hours to develop a tangy and distinct flavor.
    • Cooking method: Hoppers are cooked in a special round-shaped pan called an appachatti or appam pan, which allows them to form their unique shape.
    • Varieties: There are different variations of hoppers, including plain hoppers, egg hoppers, and sweet hoppers.
  3. 3
    Kottu Roti is a stir-fried dish made with shredded roti bread, vegetables, and meat or egg. It is a popular street food in Sri Lanka, and is known for its unique sound as it is prepared on a griddle.
    Kottu Roti is a popular Sri Lankan street food dish made from shredded roti bread, vegetables, and a choice of meat or eggs. The ingredients are stir-fried on a hot griddle with spices and served hot.
    • Main Ingredients: Roti bread, vegetables, and a choice of meat or eggs
    • Preparation Method: Shredded roti bread and vegetables are stir-fried on a hot griddle with spices
    • Texture: A combination of crispy and soft due to fried roti bread
    • Flavor Profile: Savory and mildly spicy
    • Popular Variations: Chicken Kottu, Beef Kottu, Egg Kottu, Cheese Kottu
  4. 4
    String Hoppers
    Sundar · CC BY-SA 3.0
    String Hoppers is a steamed dish made with rice flour noodles, served with coconut sambal and curry. It is a popular breakfast or dinner dish in Sri Lanka.
    String hoppers are a traditional Sri Lankan delicacy made from rice flour, water, and salt. They are thin, noodle-like ropes of steamed rice flour batter, pressed into flat, circular shapes. These delicate strands are typically served as a breakfast staple or a main course, often accompanied by savory curry dishes, coconut sambol, and lunu miris (a spicy onion and chili condiment).
    • Ingredients: Rice flour, water, salt
    • Preparation: Steamed
    • Shape: Thin, flat, circular
    • Serving: Breakfast or main course
    • Serving style: Accompanied by curry dishes, coconut sambol, and lunu miris
  5. 5
    Pol Sambol
    Dan arndt · CC BY-SA 4.0
    Pol Sambol is a spicy coconut relish made with grated coconut, red onions, chili, and lime juice. It is typically served with rice and curry, or as a side dish with other Sri Lankan dishes.
    Pol Sambol is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made with grated coconut, chili powder, lime juice, onions, and spices. It is a spicy condiment often served with rice, bread, or roti. The flavors are bold and vibrant, combining the heat from the chili powder with the tanginess of lime and the richness of coconut.
    • Main Ingredients: Grated coconut, chili powder, lime juice, onions, and spices
    • Serving: As a condiment, typically served with rice, bread, or roti
    • Flavor Profile: Spicy, tangy, and rich
    • Spice Level: Varies, can be adjusted according to taste
    • Texture: Coarse due to grated coconut
  6. 6
    Fish Ambul Thiyal is a sour and spicy fish curry made with tamarind, spices, and dried goraka fruit. It is a traditional dish from the southern coast of Sri Lanka, and is typically served with rice.
    Fish Ambul Thiyal is a traditional Sri Lankan dish that is known for its tangy and spicy flavors. It is a dry curry made with fish, usually using a firm and meaty variety such as tuna or kingfish. The fish is marinated in a blend of spices and then cooked with tamarind paste, garlic, ginger, and a medley of aromatic spices. The dish is slow-cooked until the fish is tender and the flavors have melded together, resulting in a delightful combination of sour, spicy, and savory tastes.
    • Main Ingredients: Fish, tamarind paste, garlic, ginger, spices
    • Fish Types: Tuna, kingfish, or other firm and meaty varieties
    • Flavor Profile: Tangy, spicy, savory
    • Cuisine: Sri Lankan
    • Cooking Method: Slow cooking
  7. 7
    Wambatu Moju is a sweet and sour eggplant pickle made with vinegar, sugar, and spices. It is a popular side dish in Sri Lanka, and is often served with rice and curry.
    Wambatu Moju is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made with fried eggplant (wambatu) slices marinated in a sweet and sour mixture of spices and vinegar. It is a popular condiment and side dish in Sri Lankan cuisine.
    • Main ingredient: Eggplant (wambatu)
    • Marinade: Spices, vinegar, and sugar
    • Cooking method: Deep frying or pan frying
    • Flavor profile: Sweet, sour, and tangy
    • Texture: Soft and tender eggplant with a slightly crispy outer layer
  8. 8
    Lamprais is a Dutch-influenced dish made with rice, meat, vegetables, and egg, all wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. It is a popular lunch dish in Sri Lanka, and is known for its complex flavors.
    Lamprais is a traditional dish in Sri Lanka that consists of a parcel of rice cooked in stock along with a variety of curries and then wrapped in a banana leaf before being steamed or baked. It is known for its flavorful and aromatic combination of spices, meats, and vegetables.
    • Main Ingredients: Rice, meat (usually beef, chicken, or pork), curries (such as seeni sambol and brinjal moju), and boiled egg.
    • Preparation: The rice is typically cooked in meat stock with cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. The curries and accompaniments are separately prepared and then combined and wrapped in a banana leaf.
    • Cooking Method: The parcels are traditionally baked in an oven or steamed, allowing the flavors to meld together.
    • Banana Leaf: The banana leaf not only serves as a wrapper but also imparts a unique aroma and taste to the dish.
    • Serving: Lamprais is usually served with a side of sambal (spicy condiment) and a salad.
  9. 9
    Pittu is a steamed dish made with rice flour and coconut, served with curry or coconut milk. It is a popular breakfast or dinner dish in Sri Lanka.
    Pittu is a popular traditional dish in Sri Lanka, made from a mixture of rice flour and coconut. It is typically steamed in cylindrical molds and served with a variety of accompaniments. The dish has a unique texture, resembling couscous or grated coconut.
    • Ingredients: Rice flour, grated coconut
    • Preparation: Rice flour and grated coconut are mixed with water and a pinch of salt to form a crumbly mixture. The mixture is then layered in a cylindrical mold and steamed until cooked.
    • Texture: Pittu has a unique texture, similar to couscous or grated coconut. It is light, fluffy, and slightly moist.
    • Serving: Pittu is commonly served with a variety of accompaniments such as curries (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), sambols, and coconut milk. It is often enjoyed for breakfast or dinner.
    • Variations: There are different variations of Pittu depending on the region and personal preference. Some popular variations include red rice Pittu, string hoppers Pittu, and kurakkan (finger millet) Pittu.
  10. 10
    Biryani is a spiced rice dish made with meat, vegetables, and fragrant spices. It is a popular dish in Sri Lanka, and is often served at special occasions and festivals.
    Biryani is a flavorful and aromatic rice dish originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is made by cooking basmati rice with a blend of spices, meat (such as chicken, mutton, or fish), and occasionally vegetables. Biryani is known for its rich taste, tender meat, and fragrant rice, making it one of the most popular and beloved dishes in India.
    • Region: Various regions of India, with variations in spices and style.
    • Meat: Chicken, mutton, fish, or seafood.
    • Vegetarian Options: Vegetable biryani or paneer biryani (cottage cheese).
    • Rice: Basmati rice, known for its long-grain and fragrant characteristics.
    • Spices: A blend of various spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, cumin, coriander, and saffron.

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Ranking factors for popular food

  1. Availability
    The popularity of Sri Lankan dishes can depend on how easily accessible they are to locals and tourists.
  2. Local culture
    Sri Lankan cuisine is influenced by its regions and subcultures. Therefore, the cultural significance of a dish should be considered.
  3. Taste
    The flavor and taste of the dish play an essential role in its popularity.
  4. Health benefits
    Traditional Sri Lankan cuisine uses a plethora of spices, herbs, and vegetables, which are beneficial to one's health. Hence, the nutritional value of the dishes should be taken into account.
  5. Social significance
    Some Sri Lankan dishes play an important role in social and religious events, and hence, their popularity should be considered.
  6. International Recognition
    With the rise of globalization, certain Sri Lankan dishes have gained international recognition and popularity. These dishes should be prioritized in ranking.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular Sri Lankan food. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or food is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 175 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each food once every 24 hours. The rank of each food is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular sri lankan food

Sri Lankan cuisine is a vibrant, aromatic and flavourful blend of spices, textures and ingredients that reflect the country's diverse cultural and historical influences. From fiery curries and aromatic rice dishes to tangy chutneys and crispy snacks, Sri Lankan food is a feast for the senses. Some of the most popular Sri Lankan dishes include hoppers, a type of pancake made from rice flour and coconut milk, and kottu, a stir-fry of chopped roti bread with vegetables, meat or seafood. Other must-try dishes include string hoppers, a steamed rice noodle dish, and the iconic spicy chicken curry, made with a blend of chillies, ginger, garlic and other spices. With its bold flavours and exotic ingredients, Sri Lankan cuisine is a true culinary adventure that is sure to tantalise taste buds and delight foodies of all backgrounds.

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