THE ULTIMATE VEGAN & VEGETARIAN FOOD AND DRINKS GUIDE TO SRI LANKA.

THE ULTIMATE VEGAN & VEGETARIAN FOOD AND DRINKS GUIDE TO SRI LANKA.  

Being a vegetarian, the only thing which worries me before a foreign trip is whether I will easily get affordable vegetarian or vegan food. I am a proud vegetarian (no eggs, dairy yes) since 1994 and I am one of those who will stare at you angrily if you dismiss vegetarian food as ghaas phoss (herbs and shrubs).

Coconut Roti. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

Having traveled to Australia, Jordan, Bhutan, U.A.E., Thailand, I can now say that it is becoming easier to find vegetarian and vegan food in many countries off late. But most of these countries sell such food at a premium cost or sometimes even add ingredients which they think is vegetarian. (But of course fish doesn’t grow on trees!) This blog is another of my MEGA BLOG, a term I coined some time back!

Local wine. arrack. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

SRI LANKA IS PARADISE FOR VEGANS!

Of the countries I have traveled to, apart from India, Bhutan and Nepal, Sri Lanka was the only other country where I can blindly trust the server when he/she tells me that a particular dish is vegetarian or vegan. In fact, Sri Lanka is a paradise for vegans and vegetarians, much like my country India. Unlike some countries I listed above, vegetarian food in Sri Lanka is abundant and not just limited to specialty restaurants and café.

Vegetarian curry and rice. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

I visited Colombo, Sigiriya, Galle, Kandy etc. Every where I went in Sri Lanka, it was easy to find vegetarian/vegan Sri Lankan/Indian and continental food. The food in Sri Lanka is spicy and has bold flavours. The food served in five star hotels is milder in taste though.

Samosa. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN SOUTH INDIAN AND SRI LANKAN FOOD:

I know it is annoying that I keep giving Indian references throughout this blog. But it is important to show the similarity between South Indian and Sri Lankan food. Much of the food in both countries taste and look similar. They just go with different names. Thousands of years of migration and invasions resulted in the inevitable overlapping of food culture in the two neighbouring countries.

Mendu vada. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

If I mention India, be sure the particular dish will also be available in India, mostly South. And much like South India, food at many places in Sri Lanka is served on fresh banana leaves.

Below are some of the vegetarian/vegan dishes I savoured during my sojourn to Sri Lanka. Even meat eaters will beg for more vegan food here:

Pol sambol aka coconut sambol and Katta sambol. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

GUIDE TO LOCAL SRI LANKAN FOOD:

SAMBOL – SRI LANKA VEGAN GUIDE

Sambols are the accompaniment or chutneys without which a Sri Lankan meal is incomplete. It is ubiquitous and much loved by the locals and foreigners alike. I thought it would be an injustice to dedicate just a paragraph to sambol in this blog, so I wrote a separate blog on different kinds of sambols like Pol sambol, Katta Sambol and Seeni Sambola. The blog also has easy to make recipes of sambols. Yes, it takes only 10 minutes to make pol sambol.

 Coconut aka pol sambol. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

HOPPERS:

Most restaurants will serve this in the breakfast. Called in India as appa or appam, it is wafer thin pancake made in the shape of a bowl. It is also commonly available in much of India, moreso in South India. It is made with a batter of fermented rice flour paste, coconut milk and palm toddy. It is light so just hog!

Milk Rice aka kiribath, idiyappam aka styring hoppers, kiri hodi. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

Mostly it is savoury in taste. Some varieties have sweet version too. The sweeter varieties are the milk hopper (kiri appa) and the pani appa (made using treacle). In case you want to make it at home, you can buy hoppers flour at most grocery shops and supermarkets in Sri Lanka

VEGAN ALERTSometimes it may contain eggs (biththara appa) so please ask before ordering. It is great food for vegans as it contains no dairy. You will love the fact that its outer surface is crisp while it is soft from inside, especially at the bottom of the bowl. The bowl shape is courtesy tachchiya (hot pan). Indian chefs sometimes make it in karahi (wok)

Idiyappam aka string hoppers. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

STRING HOPPERS:

Commonly called Idiyappam in India, it is also widely served in breakfast across Sri Lanka. It is also popular in Singapore, Malaysia and many other Asian countries. These are thin spaghetti or noodles like strings of rice flour dough. It takes skill to make it. The dough is grated on a specialized sieve on small wooden or metal trays stacked one atop another, closed and steamed. The method of making Idli is the same. It goes best with sambols and coconut chutneys and sambhar (Indian lentil curry) or Sri Lankan curries like ala hodi (Potato curry) and parippu (dhal-lentil). Idiyappam aka string hoppers has its root in India an dates back to first century. It is light on stomach, low on spice, healthy and easily digestible.

VEGAN ALERTSome chefs include curd in Indian coconut chutney.

sil batta at Spice garden. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

PITTU:

Called puttu in South India, it is a cylindrical roll made up of ground rice and coconut. It is then steamed and served with curry, ghee and sometimes with sugar. In India, it is widely served with chana masala (chickpeas curry). The other two varieties of pittu available in Sri Lanka are pol pittu (made with coconut) and mani pittu (made with wheat flour).

VEGAN ALERT– It is often served with egg and meat curries.

India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

KOTTU ROTI:

Very popular across Sri Lanka, it made me wonder if some resourceful chef centuries ago carelessly dumped all the leftovers in a wok and realized that all of it taste good together. It is a coarse mixture of godamba roti (Sri Lankan bread), vegetables and curry etc. The sound associated with Kottu Roti makes it all the more famous. The skilled chefs defly chop the ingredients with blunt metal cleavers while it is still being cooked on hot iron griddle (tawa). Reminds you of Indian pao bhaji at Girgaum Chowpatty, Mumbai eh?

You can easily find kottu roti in petti kades (road side eateries) and posh restaurants.

VEGAN ALERTEgg and meat versions are also common and can be confusing. Just ask!

Spices. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

PARIPPU (Dhal curry):

It is a lentil curry, mildly spiced with spices and curry leaves.  It goes well with rice, string hoppers and rotis. Mostly made with mysore dhal, it is a staple food of Sri Lankans and also most of Indians and Nepalese.

VEGAN ALERTNone

POLOS CURRY:

Jackfruit is a large tropical food, commonly available across Sri Lanka and India. However, the cooking method and taste varies. It is a large fruit chopped into pieces and cooked into a curry. Fresh polos (young green jackfruit) is preferred by the Sri Lankans. Spices like chilli powder, turmeric, mustard seeds, pandan leaves and curry leaf sprigs enhance its flavor. It is starchy and the texture is coarse and meat like.

VEGAN ALERTYou can’t go wrong with this one.

Roti. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

ACHCHARU:

It is not a main side but served as an accompaniment or side dish to the main course. Achcharu is the Sri Lankan version of pickles. The Sri Lankan achcharu taste distinctively different from the Indian achars or pickles, even though they use same ingredients such as raw mangoes, lime, onion, chillies, amberalla (Malay apple) and even pineapple and olives. Much like how Indian achar taste different in every state and every home, Sri Lankan achcharu also come in huge variety and varies in taste and texture as you move to different regions. Achcharu is a Sinhala term which means ‘mix of ingredients’. You can also buy bottled achcharu from shops. These have a long shelf life and can be savoured even when you have left Sri Lanka. Much like achar, the taste of achcharu is bold, spicy and zingy and thus can not be enjoyed on its own. It is thus wise to eat it in very small amounts along with rice and curry etc.

VEGAN ALERTDon’t even think twice. Go for it!

Red Rice Sri Lanka Vegan Food

RED RICE:

It is the local thick grained Sri Lankan rice most commonly consumed with local curries and dhal (spicy lentil stew)

VEGAN ALERT– None

KIRI HODI:

Kiri Hodi is a mixed vegetable curry and is a staple food of Sri Lanka. It is served mostly with red rice but also goes with string hoppers and bread (roti).  Coconut milk forms the base of the gravy while garlic, onion, cinnamon, pandan leaves, curry powder and fenugreek add to its taste. It is light on stomach, so you can hog. Ala Kiri Hodi means same dish but potatoes are main ingredients here.

VEGAN ALERTSome versions contain eggs.

Kola Kanda, Mukunuwenna herbal soup. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

KOLA KANDA:

It is a herbal soup made with Mukunuwenna, botanical name of which is Alternanthera sessilis. I had a bowl of Kola Kanda on one of the days for breakfast. It is a popular pot herb eaten by the locals. The taste was mild and nothing to write home about but it is a must have for the umpteen medicinal benefits it offers. It works in curing anemia, skin diseases and constipation. It also pacifies pitha and increases eye sight. It is also said to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers. It is a cholagogue laxative useful in chronic congestion of the liver biliousness and dyspepsia associated with sluggish liver. Thanks to its diuretic and diluents properties, it may be used in acute and chronic pyelitis cystitis gonorrhea. Its leaves are also eaten as salad and curry.

VEGAN ALERT: Check with staff that there is no cream in it.

Sweet potatoes. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

SWEET POTATOES AND PUMPKIN:

It is very common to find cooked Sweet Potatoes and Pumpkin in breakfast in Sri Lanka. It doesn’t appeal to me but it sure has many takers, especially tourists from Europe.

VEGAN ALERT- Just blindly gobble it up if it is your kind of thing!

Milk Rice aka Kiribath. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

MILK RICE:

Called kiribath in South India, milk rice is cooked on special occasions, much like India. Sri Lankans consider it auspicious food. It is mild in taste. Rice and thick coconut cream are cooked together. This bland rice pudding is often cut in square shape after it cools down and served with sambols, lunumiris (onion and chilli sambol) or treacle mix called panipol.

VEGAN ALERTDespite the name Milk Rice, dairy is not used. The milk here refers to the coconut milk. However, it is still wise to ask before making a mountain of milk rice on your breakfast plate. Lunumiris may contain fish. Ask.

Coconut cafe. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

COCONUT ROTI:

These are small round breads cooked on an iron griddle. It can be eaten with curries and sambol. Contains coconut and wheat.

WAMBATU MOJU (Eggplant pickle)

These are deep fried sweet and sour brinjal wedges sautéed with green chillies, red onions, sugar, vinegar, turmeric, mustard seeds. It goes well as an accompaniment to rice and curry.

VEGAN ALERT– None

Peanuts. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

SPICY PEANUTS:

I bought some packed flavoured peanuts from a super store. The taste was distinctively different from what I have eaten till now. It contains curry leaves and many local spices. A must try if you are in Sri Lanka. It lasts long so you can pack some for home as well. It is spicy and goes well with alcoholic drinks.

VEGAN ALERTNone

VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN SWEETS OF SRI LANKA

AASMI:

Aasmi is visually beautiful and looks similar to idiyappam aka string hoppers. It is available at most street shops but is quite popular during Sinhala and Tamil new year. It is made up of rice flour, coconut milk and davul kurundu juice.

VEGAN ALERT: None

Aasmi. Dessert. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

KITHUL JAGGERY:

It is an ancient sweetener popular in Sri Lanka. It looks the same as ‘gur’ from India but tastes a bit different. Most locals use kithul jiggery instead of sugar in daily use. It is extracted from fish tail palm. Concentrated treacle is heated to 200°C. The thick syrup is then cooled down and shaped as per the mould and cut into small pieces.

VEGAN ALERT: Fish tail palm is a tree, so stop sweating please!

Kevum aka kevam. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

KAVUM AKA KEVUM-

Like Milk Rice, Kavum aka Kevum is also cooked on special occasions. This sweet dish is prepared from fine rice flour, kithul treacle (sugar palm) and coconut oil. It is most commonly eaten during the Sri Lankan new year aka Sinhala New Year. It is popularly known as oil cake. It also finds mention in ancient Sri Lankan scriptures such as Pujawaliya, Saddharma Ratnawaliya and Ummagga Jatakaya. There are many different varieties of kavum found in Sri Lanka. Some are Konda kevum, Undu kevum, Naran kevum, Mun kevum and Thala kevum etc.

VEGAN ALERTIt is safe too!

King coconut. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

ALCOHOLIC AND NON ALCOHOLIC DRINKS IN SRI LANKA:

SRI LANKAN TEA:

Sri Lanka has many beverages which are unique to the island country. For example, you get many varieties of Sri Lankan Tea aka Ceylon tea. Tea culture in Sri Lanka is as strong as that of India. Tea production also employs more than 5 % of the population of Sri Lanka and is one of the major contributors to the economy of the small island. When in Sri Lanka, you must try different types of teas. Some of the teas you can try here are Irish Breakfast, Spiced Masala, green tea, Rose and French Vanilla, Lapsang Souchong, English Breakfast Earl Grey, English Afternoon black tea. You can also visit a tea garden, tea factory and even buy teas neatly packed in cute porcelain elephants.

Wood apple juice. Bel sherbat. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

WOOD APPLE JUICE:

It is known as Bel ka sherbet in India. It is a coarse juice and is quite soothing during hot weather. It can be thick or thin depending upon the mood of the chef. It has many medicinal benefits too. For example it boosts energy, purifies the blood, helps in diabetes, aids digestion and many more.

KING COCONUT WATER:

When in Sri Lanka, always order King Coconut (cocos nucifera var. aurantiaca). What makes King Coconut unique is that it is indigenous to Sri Lanka. It is bright orange in color and grows naturally all over the tropical island, sans any human aid. It is the best drink to beat the humid air of Sri Lanka. Not only is it refreshing, it is also rich in electrolytes.

Old arrack. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

OLD ARRACK:

When in Sri Lanka, you can’t skip old arrack. It is equivalent of feni of Goa (India). The country made drink is a distilled alcoholic beverage quite popular amongst locals and tourists alike. The sap of unopened flowers from a coconut palm is fermented and distilled before being packaged. You can have it with ginger beer, soda, cola or lemon based cold drinks.

Lion beer. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

LION LAGER

Another alcoholic beer ubiquitous in Sri Lanka is the Lion beer. The beer goes well with most spicy dishes of Sri Lanka. Its packaging is attractive. Do not miss it!

VEGAN ALERTAll the above mentioned drinks are vegan. Just watch out for milk in some versions of the teas.

Street food. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN SOUTH INDIAN FOOD IN SRI LANKA:

South Indian food like Masala Dosa, Mendu Vada,Idli, Samosa, sambhar, Chana, Dal Chawal, Murukku are easily available if you look carefully. All of these dishes are vegetarian and most of these dishes are vegan. Apart from posh restaurants, most of these dishes are also available in road side cars for as less as half a USD. What’s not to love?

VEGAN ALERTThe only thing in above dishes can pose a problem to vegans is the curd present in the South Indian style chutney.

Street food, mendu vada, murukku. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

INTERNATIONAL FOOD IN SRI LANKA

In case you are bored of Sri Lankan and Indian food (which is unlikely), you can also indulge in Pita bread with falafel and hummus, vegetarian sushi, pastas and pizzas across the speciality restaurants in Sri Lanka. I particularly liked the trendy Barefoot Café in Colombo. Their falafel rolls and spinach cheese quiche were generous in portion and quite tasty. Semoundu, situated at the uber cool old Dutch hospital building is posh and serves amazing continental food apart from the delicious Sri Lankan thali. It is deftly run by Sri Lankan airlines.

VEGAN ALERTBeware of cheese, cream, yoghurt, eggs, fish. Discuss with server or chef before you are served. 

Pita, falafel and hummus at barefoot cafe. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

The view from my #SoulWindow is finger licking good!

Spinach and cheese quiche at Barefoot cafe. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry to host the writers and bloggers for reviews and media reports, I was also invited on the press trip to cover it. However, my views are not influenced by the sponsorship. It is my responsibility to give truthful information to my readers on my blog and I have adhered to that personal policy while writing this blog.

This particular trip was supported by Sri Lankan Airlines in association with association with Outbound Konnections Reps Pvt. Ltd.

Outbounds Konnections can be reached at salesdelhi@outboundkonnections.in

Curry and rice. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

Spread the love, share this blog

Got any question/comments, ask in the comment section below so that it can benefit other readers.

Email me for collaboration: 21abhinav21@gmail.com

Pittu. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

Be a part of my journey on social media. The travel content I create there is different from this blog.

 Pls subscribe/follow/like:

You Tube

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook

Chana. STreet food. India Sri Lanka Vegan Food

WARNING: COPYRIGHT TO ALL THE TEXT SHARED HERE REMAINS WITH ME. YOU CAN NOT JUST LIFT THE CONTENT AND USE IT WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. STRICT LEGAL ACTION WILL BE TAKEN IF CONTENT IS STOLEN. YES, I AM SERIOUS.

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “THE ULTIMATE VEGAN & VEGETARIAN FOOD AND DRINKS GUIDE TO SRI LANKA.

  1. woow It is so great guide for veg food to hop on in srilanka
    not happened to visit it yet, this would be helpful post
    informative post abhinav, thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it. As a vegetarian myself, I try to help other vegans and vegetarians by writing such posts. As a growing global community, vegetarians find unprecedented support off late. Hope Sri Lanka happens to you soon Mayuri.

      Like

  2. Indian food is some of the most aromatic I know, and every time I walk by an Indian restaurant I can’t help but try something. Needless to say I would have a hard time staying thin in India! I love your informative and brief overview of all the foods you encountered, the pictures were wonderful and appetizing and I honestly wanted to try each of them. Vegan/vegetarian food is something I have thought a lot about when traveling because some of my family are vegan and I have no idea how to feed them in some of the places I visit. Thanks for the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are some interesting dishes in this post! I’ve never tried Sri Lankan food, but some of these look appealing. Truthfully, I’m not good at spicy food, so would steer clear of the spicy dishes. However, that coconut water looks good and probably refreshing too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mega blogs are no fun to write though, hehe, Detailed blogs are the toughest to write but equally rewarding and satisfacory. I burnt the midnight oil to finish this post. Yes, the sweets were irresistible. I asked for the second helping and then the third.

      Like

  4. Pingback: POL SAMBOL, KATTA SAMBOL, SEENI SAMBOL, LUNU MIRIS- RECIPE OF VEGAN SRI LANKAN FOOD. | A Soul Window - Top Travel Blog from India!

  5. Wow! So much good food. It’s surprising how difficult it is to find good, consistent vegan options as you travel through the states, but Sri Lanka sounds amazing for it! I love the flavors of Indian food, so this all just sounds too good.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sri Lankan food sounds, looks and from your descriptions seem to taste exactly like Keralite food. Either they copied us, or we copied them. As a Keralite, I have to insist on the former. Sri Lanka has been on my radar for some time, and now I have one more reason to visit – to compare and figure out who the original versions of these dishes belonged to – Kerala or Sri Lanka !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As a vegetarian, I love this guide, especially when you add the vegan alert. It is often really hard to know when traveling to a new country if something is vegan or not, so that is really great. I’m married to a S. Indian and definitely see some similarities in the food, I haven’t tried the breakfast bowl though. I will have to ask my mother-in-law how to make it! Sri Lankan vegetarian food looks so tasty and flavorful.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I went to Sri lanka and never had any problem with food and its flavors. I loved how the SriLankan food resembles Indian food and for vegetarians like me, it was a feast for me. Wide variety in breakfast made my day great. Rice noodles and Puttu are my favorite. I did not tried Sri Lankan sweets but they look interesting to try out.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have a good friend who is a vegetarian, but she loves to travel. One of the hardest things for her is finding places that will accommodate her dietary restrictions. I’ll send her this article, maybe she’ll want to go to Sri Lanka.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have never tried Sri Lankan food before, but I love South Indian food so it’s great to know that they are similar! I will make a note of the King Coconut water. Thank you for introducing the staples – I’d love to try pittu with chana masala someday!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What beautiful vegetarian food. And while we aren’t completely vegan or vegetarian it is nice to know where to find it since we are eating less and less meats these days. It is getting so much easier to find these days but some countries are definitely easier than others to find it and Sri Lanka looks like one of those. Thanks for sharing those lickalicious photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: SHOPPING GUIDE TO SRI LANKA- SOUVENIERS, GEMS, MEDICINES, TEA AND MORE. | A Soul Window - Top Travel Blog from India!

  13. Pingback: THE BUSINESS CLASS OF SRI LANKAN AIRLINES AND WHY IS AWARDED BEST AIRLINES IN SOUTH ASIA! | A Soul Window - Top Travel Blog from India!

  14. Pingback: LUXURY RESORT AMAYA LAKE, DAMBULLA- NICE PLACE TO STAY IN SRI LANKA NEAR SIGIRIYA | A Soul Window - Top Travel Blog from India!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s