How and where to taste Sri Lankan breakfast
The traditional Sri Lankan breakfast is served between 7 am to 10 am, and has multiple items on the menu. The typical standard breakfast menu reflects years of foreign influence on the local cuisine.
A typical breakfast consists of string hoppers, the noodle-like nests of creamed and steamed rice flour dough. The string hopper is to a Sri Lankan breakfast as toast is to a Western one. Without it, breakfast is nothing. String hoppers generally come with curries and sombols. Eggs are a regular feature, either parboiled or fried on one side.
You can also taste hoppers (Appa) that are a perennial favourite made of rice flour. They are saucer-shaped with a spongy middle and a crispy outer crust. The main variants are egg hoppers, honey hoppers and milk hoppers. You can enjoy them with a mix of curries and sambol.
If you are looking to eat healthy, order the kenda – an herbal porridge made of rice broth flavoured with coconut and loaded with medicinal herbs. Sweetened with jaggery, it is a complex and aromatic soup that will wake you up but not bog you down.
If available on the menu, you can also try the crusty Sri Lankan bread made in wood-fired ovens.
If your hosts want to treat you to something special, you might get a chance to taste Milk Rice, the queen of Sri Lankan breakfast dishes. The rice is boiled in rich coconut milk and cut in to elegant diamond shaped pieces
Milk rice is traditionally reserved for festivals and on the first day of each month in many homes.
Another Sri Lankan breakfast speciality is Pittu. Pittu is made out of steamed rice flour and coconut but stands out by its cylindrical shape as it is steam-cooked in cylindrical-shaped tubes. Pittu is accompanied with curry and/or coconut milk.
If you are on the move, your breakfast can be a “short eat” or snack. Pick the mutton roll – a dry mix of seasoned mutton and potato wrapped up in a roti. This could be a great choice if you are heading out early in the morning.