why sri lanka is the perfect spot for a plant based vacation
I’ve written about how much I loved Sri Lanka on my website, but this post is all about the amazing food.
I’ve travelled around the world as a vegetarian, and some places are easier than others. I believe it’s important to maintain a level of respect when travelling with dietary restrictions. The reality is, if I’m in a small village where they’re living off the land and meat is the primary food, then it’s up to me to figure out a way to nourish myself, and I’m always prepared for that!
However, Sri Lanka was NEVER a challenge. One of the main dishes I saw listed on menus and scribbled onto chalk boards was “rice and curry.” This sounds simple, but it is anything but.
Rice and curry often means a pile of fluffy white or red rice accompanied by up to TEN tiny dishes. There’s usually a vegetarian or a meat option, and I found almost always the vegetarian option was vegan.
Feast your eyes on a few rice and curry examples below; and take note that some of these dishes were $2.50 CAD.
In addition to delicious rice and curry, I also loved this pumpkin paratha. We enjoyed this dish at a place called Matey Hut in Ella, which was probably one of my all time favourite culinary experiences. The coconut water mice were a cute touch.
Another traditional dish that I enjoyed both at Matey Hut and at a restaurant called Ella C in the town of Ella is called kotthu. This can always be ordered veggie, and is essentially a roti with veggies that is chopped up in this entertaining fashion in a large pan. It looks like so, and tastes delicious.
Another element of Sri Lankan cuisine that impressed me was the spice. I LOVE spicy food. And I found in India, things still weren’t spicy enough for me. In Sri Lanka, when I asked for a dish to be extra spicy, it sure was spicy. If you’re not into spice don’t you worry, the restaurants were almost always accommodating when I overheard tourists asking for their dishes to made mild.
Have you ever had fresh mango juice sourced from mere meters away? It sure beats whatever we are buying in our grocery stores. I’m not normally a juice drinker but I was hooked on mango and watermelon juice while I was walking the busy streets or lounging on the beaches. Coconut water was also delicious and refreshing.
When it comes to dessert, the one pictured below was my favourite if I wanted something more than fresh fruit. This is chocolate banana roti topped with a palm tree syrup called ‘kithul.’
In conclusion - whether you’re a plant based eater or not, Sri Lanka is worth the trip as a food lover. I would go back in a heartbeat, and I can honestly say I never grew tired of rice and curry.
If you take any trains, enjoy popcorn with turmeric and triangle rotis stuffed with spicy potatoes.
Here are a few restaurant recommendations if you go:
Colombo : Kombuck Cafe, Sri Vihar
Ella: Matey Hut, Ella C
Udawalawe : Master Campers Safari serves AMAZING food
Unawatuna : One Love, Gati Madara, Happy Coconut, Happy Spice (Also offers cooking classes)
Galle Fort: The Heritage Cafe