What to Eat in Sri Lanka – food the kids will love too!


To really enjoy the experience of travelling to a new country, you need to try the local food. Kids can be notoriously fussy eaters and are fond of turning their noses up at new ingredients. But the food of Sri Lanka is so delicious and diverse that you might be surprised by how much they enjoy it.

Eat well without getting ill

Me and my two sons in Sri Lanka in 2015
Me and my two sons in Sri Lanka in 2015

You obviously need to take precautions against tummy bugs and other food-related illnesses. But, as long as you’re over-cautious when it comes to hygiene, you’ll stay healthy.

It goes without saying to make sure the kids wash their hands thoroughly before meals. From breads to curries, a lot of food is eaten with hands in Sri Lanka so germs can travel quickly. It’s also a good idea to keep a hand sanitiser in your pocket. That way, if you’re nowhere near a sink when you fancy a snack, you can still eat safely.

If you’re not used to eating spiced food, your tummy may take a little time to acclimatise. But that’s no reason to duck out of local dishes and take the safe route of pasta and pizza. Although western food is on the menu at many hotels and cafes, it’s good to stray from your comfort zone and introduce the kids to the local cuisine. Here’s five classic Sri Lankan snacks and dishes that were a hit with the whole family on our trip.

String hoppers

இடியாப்ப‌ம் by Mahinthan Someswarapillai on 500px.com

These were a firm favourite with the kids! Steamed balls of flour noodles served with spicy sambal made a change to our usual Cornflakes but we missed them when we came home.

Rice and curry

Shri Lanka Rice Curry
Order this in a restaurant and your table will be filled with lots of little plates of delicious dishes. Jackfruit curry, eggplant curry, pumpkin curry and dhal will likely be among them, along with piles of steamed rice and poppadoms or rotis.


Roti, vegetables, egg and spices are chopped up while cooking on a hot plate. Sometimes sauce is drizzled over the top and meat might be added – you’ll never eat the exact same kottu twice, which is part of its appeal.

Filled rotis

Filled Rotis
These were our go-to lunch at the beach. Rotis are filled with vegetables and spices then folded up into triangles and cooked on a skillet. Super cheap and super tasty with a good dose of chilli heat. And, if you like these, samosas are a similar street-food snack that you’ll find all over Sri Lanka.

Coconut sambal

Coconut Sambal
This is the equivalent of tomato sauce in the west – you’ll get it with everything; from hoppers to curry. The exact recipe will vary depending on the chef but it’s basically freshly grated coconut with chilli, coriander and ground spices.

Vegetable curry lunch

Vegetable Curry Lunch

Curry banquet dinner

Curry Banquet Dinner

Bag of samosas

Bag Of Samosas

Tell us what you think about Sri Lankan food

I’d love to hear your experience in the comment area below!
Have any questions about Sri Lankan food, don’t hesitate to ask me!

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About the author

Cara Frost-Sharratt is a freelance food and travel writer who lives in London. She regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and is the author of London's Classic Restaurants and London's Landmarks, also published by New Holland.

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