Sri Lanka is home to some of the most interesting dishes you will find in the world. In addition to the endemic foodstuffs of the region – many of which you will find to be heavy in coconut – there is also an element of British food and tradition that was carried over from colonial times. Read on and discover just a few Sri Lankan dishes and drinks that you absolutely must try.
Sri Lankan Tea
Sri Lankan tea is just one of those carryovers from British imperialism. In both the central and southern regions of the country, numerous tea plantations were started. It is now a very popular drink throughout the entirety of the country, especially in those regions. The most popular variety of tea in Sri Lanka is, without a doubt, Ceylon black tea, although numerous other teas are produced within the country, including vanilla, lemon, chai, fruit-oriented teas, and green teas. If there is a tea that you favor, chances are, it can be manufactured and produced in Sri Lanka.
Coconut milk is used in so many dishes throughout Sri Lanka that it should come as no surprise that coconut-based curries are popular in the country. Ingredients are usually sauteed within the sauce including peppers, curry leaf, cardamon, mustard seed, onions, garlic, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon, and then served atop a bed of vegetables, Jasmine rice, and your choice of meat, although chicken seems to be a Sri Lankan favorite.
Among the most popular variations of coconut drinks you will find in Sri Lanka are coconut water and arrack. The coconut water you find in Sri Lanka is very similar to the brands that you find marketed in the United States which are becoming popular, although many of the variations you will find in Sri Lanka are canned. Arrack is a drink that is made from a base of fermented coconut flower. It is a popular drink that has a very flowery taste (of course) and is popular when combined with another local favorite beverage – ginger beer.
Fish Ambul Thiyal
This is a very popular fish dish in Sri Lanka, the name of which roughly translates to a "sour fish curry." It is an entire fish that is both large and firm – usually tuna – that is then seasoned with turmeric, garlic, blended spices, curry leaf, cinnamon, pandan leaves, and finally a bit of dried goraka. The dried goraka is the most important piece to constructing this dish, as it gives it a distinct sour flavor.
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