Looking for Sri Lankan recipes? Want the perfect egg hoppers or Sri Lankan curry recipe? Try our ideas here, then check out Eroshan Meewella's guide to Sri Lankan food. Try egg hoppers for breakfast, or make the best chicken curry from Sri Lankan restaurant Kolamba, and serve with fragrant side dishes and sambals.


A verdant South Asian paradise, Sri Lanka is dominated by two distinct groups: the majority Sinhalese concentrated in the south, central and west of the island, and the Tamils, based mostly in the north and east. These two cultures have separate languages, traditions and religions, a mosaic of diversity that has also led to distinct Sinhalese and Tamil styles of cooking. Many Sinhalese follow the principles of Ayurveda – “food is medicine, medicine is food” – while Tamils say there are six tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, salty and astringent – and that every meal should be a harmonious balance of all.

Yet there is plenty of common ground: the humble coconut is used universally, as is rice, the staple carbohydrate, and lentils. Curry leaves are a vital part of many Sinhalese and Tamil dishes, too. Vegetables grow so well in the warm, rainy climate that no day passes without a meal that includes juicy tomatoes, fragrant pineapples, jackfruit, aubergines, beans or gourds. And the warm waters of the Indian Ocean provide the island with copious fish and shellfish.

Sri Lankans tend to tuck into hearty breakfasts of string hoppers with curry and sambol relish, generous lunches and smaller, uncomplicated dinners in the evening. ‘Short eats’ are small takeaway snacks taken at any time of the day, and sold by shouting vendors in railway carriages and on lively beachfronts; they include fish patties, crunchy lentil vadai and mince rolls.

The classic Sri Lankan meal is rice and curry, a simple-sounding name that belies the thought and detail that goes into its preparation. It consists of a balance of several spiced, colourful curries, perhaps a dahl, and an essential accompaniment of sambol relish or pickle. It’s a generous spread, ideal for a dinner party or special occasion; for everyday cooking you’ll find that most Sri Lankan dishes make a memorable meal on their own.

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Sri Lankan recipes

Egg hoppers

Cook up a Sri Lankan-style breakfast at home with Peter Kuruvita’s egg hoppers, a popular Sri Lankan breakfast dish.

Egg hoppers with cooking pans in the background

Sri Lankan watalappan (coconut custard with kithul)

Sri Lankan kithul syrup is made from unrefined palm sugar. It lends these puddings a rich, caramel-like flavour and hints of dates and honey.

glass ramekins on stone plates filled with a set custard and topped with coconut flakes

Sri Lankan baked chicken

This is a take on a classic Sri Lankan dish by husband and wife team Prakash Sivanathan and Niranjala Ellawala, both born in Sri Lanka to Tamil (Prakash) and Sinhalese (Niranjala) families. Traditionally, cooking in the country is done over heat, but this recipe is baked in the oven.

Sri Lankan spicy Baked Chicken (c) Kim Lightbody

Kolamba’s parippu (lentil curry)

This recipe from Soho restaurant Kolamba is packed with layers of delicate flavours and spice, perfect as part of a Sri Lankan-style feast.

A white bowl filled with a golden-coloured curry and white fluffy rice, scattered with coriander on a grey stone background

Kolamba's Sri Lankan chicken curry

Make this your go-to special chicken curry. Straight from the kitchen of London's Kolamba restaurant, this Sri Lankan recipe uses oodles of fresh spices and a homemade roasted curry powder.

Kolamba Sri Lankan Chicken Curry Recipe

Kolamba's green beans with coconut

A wonderfully fragrant Sri Lankan side dish, shared by London's Kolamba. Homemade roasted curry powder and plenty of fresh, grated coconut is the key to this dish's authentic flavour.

Sri Lankan Green Beans Recipe Kolamba Restaurant

Kolamba's polos (young jackfruit curry)

Make a vegan Sri Lankan feast tonight, with this jackfruit curry recipe from the kitchen of Kolamba. You'll need plenty of fresh spices and a tin of green jackfruit, which you can pick up in most supermarkets. We have lots more jackfruit recipes where this came from, too.

Sri Lankan Polos Jackfruit Curry Recipe Kolamba

Sri Lankan spiced grilled cabbage

Elevate your summer barbecue by coating charred hispi cabbage in spices and tomatoes. Also vegan and gluten-free, ensuring everyone can relish the flavours.

Plate of grilled cabbage topped with tomatoes and onions, next to lime lime slices.

Coconut sambal

Coconut sambal (pol sambal) is served with nearly every meal in Sri Lanka. Try Peter Kuruvita’s version with egg hoppers for a brunch with a difference.

Coconut sambal in a pestle and mortar

Egg hoppers with coconut sambol

Egg hoppers are a popular choice for breakfast in Sri Lanka. Thin pancakes are made with a batter of rice flour, yeast and coconut milk, and have an egg cooked in the middle before being served with sambol. Use a hopper pan (available from Asian cookshops), a small wok or a high-sided frying pan for this recipe.

Egg Hoppers Recipe

Sri Lankan mutton rolls

Peter Kuruvita’s Sri Lankan mutton rolls, teeming with potatoes, lamb mince, mint leaves and green chillies in a breadcrumb coating, are a must in your Sri-Lankan-style feast at home.

Mutton rolls on a plate

Sri Lankan-style slow-cooker cashew and potato curry

A creamy, aromatic Sri Lankan curry that happens to be vegan. This recipe doesn't require any fancy ingredients and is really simple to make – the slow cooker does most of the work for you. Find plenty more vibrant vegan curry recipes.

Sri Lankan cashew and potato curry served in bowls

Sri Lankan-style fish curry

This aromatic Sri Lankan-style fish curry recipe is packed with flavour from cardamom, black pepper, tamarind, ginger and lime, and you can use any firm white fish to make it. It's easy to put together in less than an hour and is handily suitable for freezing.

Sri Lankan-inspired carrot curry

This vegan carrot curry is inspired by the aromatic spices often found in Sri Lankan food, such as black pepper, ginger, curry leaves and chilli. It's easy to make, ready in 45 minutes and is low in calories.

Sri Lankan Curry Recipe with Carrot

Sri Lankan-style cashew chicken curry

Make your own Sri Lankan curry powder with cardamom, coriander seed, cumin, black pepper and mustard seed and combine it with coconut milk and toasted cashews to spice up chicken thighs in this impressive curry. Scoop up with warm roti for a comforting midweek meal.

Sri Lankan Cashew Nut Chicken Curry Recipe

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