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The best street foods in Colombo - Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan food is blessed with variety, texture and oh, tons of spice! Walk down any street, its hard not to find a shop or tiny kiosk churning out snacks or Sri Lankan rice and curry. There are some stand out delights that come to mind.
 

Koththu Roti at Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green is a fantastic place just to dig into a variety of typical Sri Lankan street food.  At the open-air restaurants on the Green, you can try koththus and rotis with spicy curry. Kottus are rotis cut up and tossed with vegetables and a meat of your choice. It’s quite a popular meal and comes with a gravy. 

Samosa and Isso Vadai

Among the snacks served, you have to try samosas and isso vadai, among an assortment of other fried things. The triangular savoury filling wrapped pastry is a crunchy addictive delight. The isso (prawn/shrimp) vadai are spicy lentil cakes deep fried with either the prawn inside or pressed on top. Its a great snack crispy on the outside and soft inside - when fried just right.  Kadala is chick peas, boiled or sautéed with onions, green chillies and curry leaves - it’s a soft snack that goes a long way.

Drinks on the Green

If the heat gets to you, order yourself a glass of falooda which is a sweet drink you will truly say ‘yum’ to. Essentially milk mixed with sweet rose syrup, with a sprinkling of different sweet toppings. Freshly squeezed fruits with ice are great too, the local green orange ’naarung’ is exceptionally good, alongside pineapple and papaya.
You will come across fruit vendors serving up sliced mangoes, pineapple with a sprinkling of salt and chilli power (if you like). Depending on the seasonal fruits, try an ‘achcharu’ which is a mixed bag of direct fruit fired up with chilli powder, salt and pepper - be warned, it is serious fire but the burst of different fruit flavours is magical. 
 
Sri Lankan Hoppers
A light pancake like batter made with coconut water, whirled in a round dish to cook, hoppers are light and can be enjoyed with curry, for breakfast or dinner. The classic way is to have plain hoppers with fiery-looking ‘lunu miris’ which is chopped onions mixed in a chilli base. Egg hoppers - an egg is thrown into the middle - are also popular. But because Sri Lankan hoppers are light, you can easily run through quite a few of them. I like having my hoppers with a creamy fish curry and lunu miris - a combo that never fails.
 

Food Trucks down Marine Drive

I stumbled upon these food trucks in the evening, in the Bambalapitiya area close to a mosque. There’s Sri Lankan and Mexican food as well as burgers and sandwiches.  it takes around 10-15 minutes to get your food as it is freshly prepared while you wait. I opted for burgers and I really enjoyed it because it didn’t have that processed taste you can’t escape from in the branded places. Chairs are provided to sit down and enjoy the food with the sea breeze blowing across and trains occasionally pass by. Take care while strolling between trucks, as they face the road.
 

For the Vegetarian 

There are so many small hotels and eating places that offer vegetarian food. Whether you opt for pulse-based ‘idli’ a soft steamed cake which comes with a vegetable curry and a chutney, or the crispy ‘dosai’ you can get a meal to go in just a few minutes. Keep an eye out for the sweet, bright yellow treats that are usually kept on display in the front, which you may opt for as dessert.
Green Juices
 
The ‘kola kandhe’ has been around forever in Sri Lanka. A light rice broth made with herbs, its a healthy drink that is generally taken in the morning. In recent years, many pop-up stands have begun making this broth, with a variety of herbs which have several health benefits. Some stands offer a piece of jaggery, a hard sweet made of palm treacle, to go with the juice. Of course the taste varies according to how fresh the herbs are and the preparation.
 

 

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