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Sri Lankan Breakfast Food

Last Updated on August 8, 2021 by Chef

Of everything we ate in Sri Lanka, it was the Sri Lankan breakfast food that we looked forward to most. It was refreshing to have something so totally different to what we would eat in the west, cooked with care and considerable effort and featuring all the flavours of this magical country. Hoppers, roti, curries, and fresh sambols graced our breakfast table, often with refreshing buffalo curd and a plate of sun-ripe mango or papaya. Of course, there was always fine Sri Lankan tea to accompany our meal.

Below is a table set with a fairly typical array of Sri Lankan breakfast food. We would watch as men and women grated coconuts fresh from garden trees for the fiery raw coconut sambol that accompanied the other breakfast food so well.

In Sri Lanka they have a special tool come seat for doing just this, so great is their coconut consumption. It’s really not the sort of thing you could prepare with anything less than absolutely fresh coconut.

Sri Lankan breakfast food. World food photos at World Travel Chef.
We ate like kings at breakfast time in Sri Lanka.

The whole family really enjoyed these traditional Sri Lankan breakfasts. On the large plate we have string hoppers (recipe here), regular plain hoppers, and coconut (pol) roti.

Sri Lankan Breakfast Food

Sri Lankan breakfast food includes curries, which can be fish, meat, egg, or vegetarian, plus fresh spicy chutney and carbohydrate dishes such as hoppers, roti, and rice. Hoppers and roti come in many different forms. Milk rice is a possibility, along with fruit and curd.

Moving clockwise in the photo above, you can see fresh coconut sambol. We would watch as the coconuts were grated every morning, using a simple machine, before spices, lime and chilies joined the pot. ( recipe for pol sambol here)

Next is a mild, coconut and potato curry and a simple dahl.

Egg and coconut curries were also served and meat eaters could enjoy fish or meat curries at breakfast. Something we saw often when dining alongside locals in up-market Kandy.

Where to Find Good Sri Lankan Breakfast Food?

Sri Lankan breakfast food from a street stall at the roadside
Something similar, but less grand, from a road side food stall. String hoppers are more common at breakfast than plain hoppers.

If you’re staying in a luxurious hotel, you may well find traditional Sri Lankan breakfast food on the morning buffet.  The image below is from our time at the glorious Eden Resort and Spa on the East coast. Don’t be afraid to try.

Smaller hotels and guest houses may cook you a meal like this to order. They normally like you to place that order the night before, as obviously, a production like this takes time and planning.

Sri Lankan breakfast food at a hotel
String hoppers, dal and sambol, a made to order breakfast in a small hotel. Curry leaves spike the dal to give it a real southern touch.

Also look out for small cafes, food stalls and “hotels”, the Sri Lankan word for food joint. They may well have an assortment of typical Sri Lankan breakfast foods ready for you to order.

breakfast buffet in Sri Lanka. Breakfast dishes
Breakfast buffet in Sri Lanka. Breakfast dishes

Egg hoppers are not really considered a breakfast food by Sri Lankans, but you will find some private villas and big hotels cooking them to order for tourists. They’re certainly a great way to start the day.

You can find little street stalls selling hoppers, plain or with a variety of fillings all over Sri Lanka. These egg hoppers were cooked and served to us by our private chef at the stunning Max Wadiya villa, again on the east coast.

Sri Lankan breakfast food. Max Wadiya villa Sri Lanka egg hoppers

One of the highlights of our travels in Sri Lanka, breakfast, always with pots of locally produced tea. Don’t miss your chance to visit the tea plantations high in the hills during your time in Sri Lanka. We checked out a few in lovely Ella. Take a look at  Climbing Little Adams Peak with Children for stunning views and acres of tea.

Recipes for Sri Lankan breakfast dishes and further information on Sri Lankan food, can be found by clicking through the links above.

If you’d like to make idiyappam at home, you’ll need a idiyappam maker plus steamer, some idiyappam flour (buy online) and an idiyappam recipe. You can click through for those 3 things.

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Talitha

Friday 25th of November 2016

We've experienced it - and became instantly absolute Sri Lankan food-lovers. We were very lucky to be able to experience real curries made by real cooks (there is quite some crap for sale in some of the restaurants) ... but the breakfast beat it all! (We ate so much for breakfast we hardly ever had lunch!) Now I just have the extra kilo to remind me how gorgeous it all was! Talitha

Chef

Monday 28th of November 2016

Thanks for reading Talitha, definitely know what you mean about the breakfast. Not uncommon for us to skip lunch after a big breakfast.

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