17th Mar 2013

Sri Lankan Street Food: A quick Glimpse

I've been eating Sri Lankan street food for over 10 years now and I continue to do so on a daily basis. Although not as varied as neighbouring India, there are many options available for those times when you've been surfing all day and need a quick fix between meals. Street food is available all over the island whether it be from the small shacks on the roadside or the specially adapted carts that trundle through the streets day and night.

Due to the combination of tantalising spices and flavours used, Sri Lankan street food is extremely unique. Some of the food has taken influences from Indian flavours, but Sri Lanka has adapted these influences and created something that is their own. As with most Sri Lankan dishes, the street food items are extremely spicy. So if you are not comfortable with the slow burn of the Sri Lankan chilli and spice, ask your local vendor for one of the more milder options available.

If you're on a budget then street food is the way to go, you can fill up on delicious food for next to nothing. Even if you aren't on a budget though, please do venture to your local Rotty or Short Eat shop to try the delicious and traditional treats. Everything from dhal fritters to breaded fish rolls can be purchased all day long. My personal favourite has to been one of the most renowned street foods available; Kottu.  This is eaten by locals and tourists alike and you can literally find it everywhere. The sound of it being prepared is very distinctive and can be heard coming from many a restaurant and roadside eatery throughout the country.

Traditionally, Kottu is made on an iron hot plate. The cutting and mixing is carried out using two relatively blunt metal blades, not unlike that of a sushi cleaver. When the orders start to fly you are absorbed into the hypnotic beat of the blades banging on the hot plate. Its almost as if they are playing an incredibly complex drum solo each time they prepare one, it truly is an art form. It is extremely interesting to watch.

The most common choice of Kottu is chicken with egg and vegetables, closely followed by egg and vegetable on its own. This has to be one of the most filling dishes on offer and I myself eat it every day for lunch, with a large helping of super spicy chicken curry sauce which serves as a great accompaniment. The savoury Kottu's and Rotty's are delicious, but you must try the banana, coconut, chocolate and honey sweet treats…wow!

Here's a few shots from my latest street food adventures…