Delicious Sri Lankan Side Dishes to Elevate Your Meal

Sri Lankan cuisine often goes underrated in the global culinary scene, but it holds a trove of delicious secrets worth exploring. One such gem is the range of tantalizing side dishes that can truly transform your meal into a flavor paradise.

This blog post will serve as your guide to discovering and preparing mouth-watering Sri Lankan side dishes from the classic Pol Sambol to unique creations like Kola Kenda (Herbal porridge).

So let’s get cooking, shall we?.

Key Takeaways

  • Sri Lankan side dishes like Pol Sambol, Lunu Miris, and Wambatu Moju can add a burst of flavor to your meal.
  • Unique side dishes such as Kola Kenda and Elawalu Roti offer a taste of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine.
  • Pairing these side dishes with rice – based meals, meat and seafood dishes, or vegetarian options can create a delectable Sri Lankan feast.

Classic Sri Lankan Side Dishes

Classic Sri Lankan side dishes include Pol Sambol, a spicy coconut relish, Lunu Miris, an onion chili mix, and Wambatu Moju, an eggplant curry.

Pol Sambol (Spicy Coconut Relish)

Pol Sambol is a must-try dish when in Sri Lanka! This tasty side dish gets its kick from spicy coconut. It pairs great with many meals. Give it a go even if you like less spice; you can make it as hot or mild as you like.

Just the right blend of flavors makes this dish stand out. Try Pol Sambol next time, and taste something unique!

Lunu Miris (Onion Chili Mix)

Lunu Miris, also known as Onion Chili Mix, is a spicy condiment that adds a fiery kick to any Sri Lankan meal. Made with just a few simple ingredients like onions, chilies, salt, and lime juice, this flavorful mix packs a punch.

Adventure travelers who enjoy bold and intense flavors will love the heat of Lunu Miris. It can be served alongside rice and curry dishes or used as a dipping sauce for snacks like roti or vadai.

Just be ready to have your taste buds tingling with every bite!

Wambatu Moju (Eggplant Curry)

Wambatu Moju, also known as Eggplant Curry, is a delicious Sri Lankan side dish that will add flavor to your meal. This curry features tender eggplants cooked with spices and tangy tamarind paste.

The eggplants are first fried until golden brown and then simmered in a sweet and sour sauce. Wambatu Moju is often served alongside rice and other curries, adding a burst of flavor to the feast.

It’s a must-try dish for adventure travelers looking to indulge in traditional Sri Lankan cuisine.

Gotu Kola Sambol (Pennywort Salad)

Gotu Kola Sambol, also known as Pennywort Salad, is a refreshing Sri Lankan side dish that adventure travelers should try. It is made with gotu kola leaves, which are packed with nutrients and believed to have various health benefits.

The leaves are finely chopped and mixed with grated coconut, lime juice, chili flakes, and seasoning. This salad has a vibrant green color and a unique flavor that pairs well with spicy curry dishes.

It not only adds freshness to your meal but also provides you with a nutritious boost. So don’t miss the chance to taste this flavorful and healthy Sri Lankan side dish during your culinary adventure in the country!

Mallung/Mallum (Kale with Coconut)

Mallung, also known as Mallum, is a delicious Sri Lankan side dish made with kale and coconut. It’s a simple yet flavorful dish that adds a healthy touch to any meal. The kale is finely chopped and mixed with freshly grated coconut, along with some spices like turmeric and mustard seeds for added flavor.

Mallung is often served alongside rice and curry dishes, adding both texture and nutrition to the feast. Whether you’re an adventure traveler looking to try traditional Sri Lankan cuisine or simply seeking a tasty vegetarian option, Mallung is definitely worth trying!

Ulundu Vadai/Medu Vada (Lentil Fritters)

Ulundu Vadai, also known as Medu Vada, is a delicious Sri Lankan side dish that adventure travelers must try. These lentil fritters have a crispy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior.

They are made from ground urad dal mixed with spices like cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and curry leaves. The mixture is then shaped into round patties and deep-fried until golden brown.

Ulundu Vadai is often served hot with coconut chutney or sambar, a spicy lentil soup. It’s the perfect snack to enjoy during your Sri Lankan culinary adventure!

Unique Sri Lankan Side Dishes

Experience the unique flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine with these one-of-a-kind side dishes that will take your meal to the next level.

Kola Kenda (Herbal Porridge)

Kola Kenda, also known as Herbal Porridge, is a unique Sri Lankan side dish that adventure travelers should definitely try. This comforting and nutritious porridge is made by boiling a mixture of different herbs and spices, such as gotu kola (pennywort), coriander leaves, curry leaves, and garlic in coconut milk or water.

The result is a flavorful and aromatic porridge that is packed with health benefits. Kola Kenda is not only delicious but also believed to have medicinal properties and helps in detoxifying the body.

It’s a perfect choice for those looking for a healthy and satisfying side dish during their culinary adventures in Sri Lanka.

Elawalu Roti (Vegetable Roti)

Elawalu Roti, also known as Vegetable Roti, is a delicious Sri Lankan side dish that adventure travelers should definitely try. It is a type of bread made with a dough that is filled with a flavorful mixture of vegetables and spices.

The dough is rolled out and then cooked on a hot griddle until it becomes golden brown and crispy. Elawalu Roti can be enjoyed on its own or served alongside other dishes as part of a meal.

It’s a great option for vegetarians, as it provides a tasty and satisfying alternative to meat-based dishes. So next time you’re in Sri Lanka, don’t forget to try this mouthwatering Vegetable Roti!

Pol Pani (Coconut Pancake)

Pol Pani, also known as coconut pancake, is a delicious and unique Sri Lankan side dish that you should definitely try. Made from a batter of rice flour and grated coconut, these pancakes are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

They have a subtle coconut flavor that pairs perfectly with spicy curries or even just by themselves. Pol Pani is commonly served for breakfast or as a teatime snack in Sri Lanka. It’s a simple yet satisfying dish that will add an extra level of enjoyment to your culinary adventure in Sri Lanka.

You’ll find many variations of Pol Pani across different regions in Sri Lanka. Some recipes may include additional ingredients like jaggery (a type of sugar) or spices such as cardamom and cinnamon to enhance the flavors.

Kokis (Rosette Cookies)

Kokis, also known as Rosette Cookies, is a unique Sri Lankan side dish that is worth trying. These crispy and intricate cookies are made by dipping a special rosette cookie iron into a batter made from rice flour and coconut milk, and then deep frying it until golden brown.

The result is a beautiful flower-shaped cookie with a delightful crunch. Kokis is often enjoyed during festive occasions such as weddings and celebrations in Sri Lanka. It’s not only delicious but also visually appealing, making it the perfect treat to elevate your meal.

Kottu (Chopped Bread)

Kottu is a popular Sri Lankan street food that adventure travelers must try. It is made by chopping up paratha bread, vegetables, and meat or eggs on a hot griddle. The sound of the metal spatula hitting the griddle as the ingredients are mixed together is part of the experience.

Kottu can be customized with different flavors and spice levels to suit your taste preferences. It’s a delicious and satisfying dish that offers a unique texture and flavor combination.

Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets or relaxing at a beachside stall, don’t miss out on trying kottu during your Sri Lankan culinary adventure!

Pairing Sri Lankan Side Dishes

Discover the best side dishes to pair with rice-based meals, meat and seafood dishes, and vegetarian-friendly options to create a delectable Sri Lankan feast.

Best side dishes for rice-based meals

Sri Lankan cuisine offers a variety of delicious side dishes that complement rice-based meals. Here are some top choices to enhance your dining experience:

  • Pol Sambol: This spicy coconut relish adds a burst of flavor with its combination of grated coconut, red onions, chili, and lime juice.
  • Brinjal Moju: Made with eggplant, this tangy and sweet pickle is cooked with spices like mustard seeds, turmeric, and vinegar.
  • Ogu Ruloung: Also known as mushroom curry, this dish features mushrooms simmered in a rich and flavorful gravy made with coconut milk, onions, garlic, and spices.
  • Maldive Fish Sambol: A popular fish condiment made from cured tuna flakes mixed with onions, green chilies, lime juice, and spices.
  • Gotu Kola Sambol: A refreshing salad made from pennywort leaves tossed with grated coconut, tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and chili flakes.

Side dishes for meat and seafood dishes

If you’re a fan of meat and seafood dishes, you’ll love these Sri Lankan side dishes that will elevate your meal:

  1. Brinjal Moju: This tangy and spicy eggplant pickle is the perfect accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats and seafood.
  2. Ambul Thiyal: A traditional sour fish curry made with spices like goraka (a tamarind-like fruit) and served alongside rice or bread.
  3. Prawn Curry: Flavorful and rich in spices, this prawn curry is a delicious choice to pair with steamed rice or roti.
  4. Chicken Curry: Tender chicken cooked in fragrant spices and coconut milk makes for a hearty and satisfying side dish.
  5. Fish Cutlets: These crispy fried fish patties are perfect for adding some crunch to your meat or seafood feast.

Vegetarian-friendly side dishes

Vegetarian-friendly side dishes are a delicious addition to any Sri Lankan meal. Whether you’re a vegetarian or simply looking to explore plant-based options, Sri Lanka has a variety of tasty dishes to try. Here are some vegetarian-friendly side dishes to elevate your meal:

  1. Pol Sambol (Spicy Coconut Relish): This iconic dish is made with grated coconut, chili flakes, onion, and lime juice. It’s the perfect accompaniment to rice and curry.
  2. Lunu Miris (Onion Chili Mix): Made with sliced onions, chili flakes, lime juice, and salt, this spicy condiment adds a kick to any meal.
  3. Wambatu Moju (Eggplant Curry): This tangy and sweet eggplant curry is made with fried eggplant slices, onions, mustard seeds, vinegar, sugar, and spices.
  4. Gotu Kola Sambol (Pennywort Salad): Made with fresh pennywort leaves (known as gotu kola), grated coconut, chili flakes, lime juice, and spices, this salad is both refreshing and nutritious.
  5. Mallung/Mallum (Kale with Coconut): This dish features finely chopped kale cooked with grated coconut, spices, and a squeeze of lime juice for added zing.
  6. Ulundu Vadai/Medu Vada (Lentil Fritters): These crispy lentil fritters are made with ground lentils mixed with onions, green chilies, curry leaves and deep-fried until golden brown.

Cooking Tips and Techniques

Learn the traditional preparation methods, discover common ingredients and spices, and get insider tips for achieving authentic Sri Lankan flavors. Elevate your culinary skills with these cooking tips and techniques!

Traditional preparation methods

Sri Lankan cuisine has a rich culinary heritage, and its traditional preparation methods add to the unique flavors of their dishes. Here are some important things to know:

  • Sri Lankan food is often prepared using traditional techniques that have been passed down through generations.
  • Many dishes are cooked over an open fire, which gives them a smoky and distinct taste.
  • Some ingredients are pounded or crushed using a mortar and pestle to release their flavors.
  • Spices and herbs are ground into pastes or powders using stone grinders, ensuring maximum flavor extraction.
  • Curries are slow – cooked for hours to allow the flavors to meld together and develop a rich depth.
  • Coconut milk is commonly used in Sri Lankan cooking, adding creaminess and richness to many dishes.
  • Fermentation is also a common method of food preservation in Sri Lanka, with foods like pickles and chutneys being a popular addition to meals.

Common ingredients and spices

Sri Lankan cuisine uses a variety of common ingredients and spices to create its unique flavors. Here are some key ones to look out for:

  1. Coconut: A staple ingredient in Sri Lankan cooking, coconut is used in various forms such as coconut milk, grated coconut, or scraped coconut.
  2. Curry leaves: These aromatic leaves add depth and flavor to curries and other dishes.
  3. Rice: Sri Lankans love their rice, which serves as the base for many meals. Both white and red rice varieties are commonly used.
  4. Turmeric: This bright yellow spice adds color and a mild earthy flavor to dishes.
  5. Cinnamon: A warm and fragrant spice that is often used in both sweet and savory dishes.
  6. Cardamom: Known for its unique aroma, cardamom is used to enhance the flavor of curries, desserts, and beverages.
  7. Chili peppers: Sri Lankan cuisine can be spicy, thanks to the use of chili peppers. Different varieties of chili peppers are used based on desired heat levels.
  8. Maldive fish: This dried fish adds a rich umami flavor to many Sri Lankan dishes.
  9. Mustard seeds: These tiny seeds are often tempered in hot oil before being added to curries, lending a nutty flavor.
  10. Pandan leaves: These fragrant leaves are used to infuse a subtle vanilla-like aroma into rice and desserts.

Tips for achieving authentic flavors

To achieve authentic flavors in your Sri Lankan side dishes, there are a few tips and techniques that you can follow. First, make sure to use traditional preparation methods. This means grinding your own spices, using fresh ingredients, and taking the time to cook each dish properly.

Second, familiarize yourself with common Sri Lankan ingredients and spices like coconut milk, curry leaves, cardamom, and cinnamon. These will add depth and complexity to your dishes.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations of flavors. Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its bold and vibrant tastes, so feel free to adjust the spice levels and balance of sweet-sour-spicy elements according to your preferences.


In conclusion, Sri Lankan side dishes are bursting with delightful flavors and textures that will take your meal to a whole new level. From the spicy kick of Pol Sambol to the unique herbal Porridge, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Don’t miss out on experiencing the vibrant cuisine of Sri Lanka – it’s a culinary adventure worth embarking on!


1. What are some traditional Sri Lankan side dishes?

Traditional Sri Lankan side dishes include favorites like coconut sambal, dhal curry, spicy eggplant salad, and pol sambol.

2. How can I incorporate these side dishes into my meal?

These side dishes can be paired with rice or roti as accompaniments to curries or other main dishes for a complete Sri Lankan meal experience.

3. Are these side dishes difficult to make?

No, most of these Sri Lankan side dishes are relatively easy to make with simple ingredients and cooking techniques.

4. Can I customize the spiciness level of these side dishes?

Yes, you can adjust the spiciness level according to your preference by adding more or less chili peppers or spices during the preparation process.

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