Order what most Sri Lankans do for lunch: rice and curry, at Kesel Kole (Banana Leaf). Serving traditional food, it’s the kind of place a Sri Lankan would take their mother to. Choose from a range of familiar and unusual curries – the pollos curry (young green jackfruit) is delicious. Try the gotu kola, a Sri Lankan version of tabouli. 26/7D, Sri Bodhirajarama Road, Diwlpitiya, Borelesgamuwa, Greater Colombo; 00 94 77 778 3201.
Dutch Burgher Union is a hole-in-the-wall at the back of a restored 19th century Dutch Colonial Club. It’s famous for its lamprais, steamed banana leaf parcels of rice and curry, and their homemade ginger beer is a must.
A trip to Jaffna is not complete without a visit to Rio Ice Cream. Locals swear it’s the best ice cream in Sri Lanka. Try the Rio mega special – four flavours of ice cream topped with jelly, smarties, fruit and nuts. Or my favourite – kithul nuts with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with kithul treacle (sweet syrup made from the kithul palm) and chopped cashews. 448 Point Pedro Road, Nallur, Jaffna; 00 94 21 222 7224.
If you’re visiting Udawalawe National Park, book lunch at Mankada Café. It’s attached to the Mankada Pottery Centre and serves the finest aubergine pickle. Book in advance, as everything is prepared to order by women from the local village, using vegetables from their gardens. Try their specialty, tin kiri tea (frothy milky tea), with sweetmeats. 57 Ekamuthugama, Sevanagala, Udawalawe, ring Ajith Perera; 00 94 77 778 6295.
Stock up on snacks en route to Arugam Bay, at Sumadu Products. A humble but expanding factory at the back of a house, it makes the best milk toffee and dangerously addictive chilli bites. 138 Depot Road, Hulandawa, Monaragala; 00 94 77 688 5177.
Written by Bree Hutchins, author of Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka (Murdoch Books, £20).
This feature was published in December 2014
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