Sri Lankan cuisine offers unique flavours

September 02 2015

From noodles and rice bowls to curries and indulgent custard-based desserts, Sri Lankan cuisine offers an array of delicious and unique flavours - and if you've never sampled food from this island nation, there's a growing number of options for you to try right here in Canada.

One of the defining features of Sri Lankan food is that it uses coconut milk instead of yoghurt or cream to thicken up sauces. The result is a sweet and distinctive flavour - and it's also good news for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to cow's milk. The spices are prepared in a specific way - quickly roasted and ground - to give them a distinctive flavour. 

Sri Lankan food can also be very spicy, but there are plenty of options for those who prefer their food to be more mild.


Restaurant reviewer for Edmonton AM, Twyla Campbell recently visited Sambol, a new Sri Lankan restaurant on 34th Avenue in Edmonton. She called the menu a "flavour smorgasboard", adding that owner Champa Pathirana puts her "heart and soul into the food".

Everything at Sambol is homemade and just some of the items on the menu include:

  • Roti - A soft flat bread.
  • Hoppers - A thin batter that's made into noodles or crepes and served with coconut gravy.
  • Salads - Options include cucumber salad or pineapple salad.
  • Fish rolls - Deep-fried roll filled with tuna, potato and spices.
  • Pastry patties - Filled with chicken, potatoes and spices
  • Devilled shrimp - Shrimp, mixed with red and green peppers and topped with a spicy sauce.
  • Wattalapum - Coconut custard with treacle.

Ms Campbell praised the restaurant's unique items and wonderful flavours. She noted that the restaurant is a "small operation" and Ms Pathirana served her.

"She is very proud of her food and she should be. It was great. And it was like sitting in her kitchen, she's so hospitable," Ms Campbell added.

Ceylon Cuisine and Spice

When this food truck opened on Vancouver Island, it was the first in Canada to serve Sri Lankan cuisine, says owner and food entrepreneur Manoja Gangodage.

Ms Gangodage told the Comox Valley Record that she couldn't find any other Sri Lankan restaurants in the region, so she started the business.

The food truck sells a range of frozen curries, as well as hot food like chicken kothu, egg roti and hoppers. Ms Gangodage said that her approach is about subtlety - applying the culinary tradition of her birthplace to the fresh produce of her new home - and she believes this brings out the local flavours in a new way.

She added that the response to the food truck has been very positive. "Our first day at the market was very exciting. It seemed that the whole of the Comox Valley was also excited for us. We had a great response," she said - and she recently announced on her Facebook page that a restaurant would be coming soon.

Kothu Fest

This is the first festival to celebrate the Sri Lankan dish Kathu Roti. It takes place on the 19th of September in Toronto and will feature a variety of vendors selling their own take on the dish.‚Äč Visitors to the event can vote on their favourite dish - and a People's Choice award will be given at the end of the day.