Sri Lanka is a tiny island in the Indian Ocean off of India. Officially called “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka” which was known as “Ceylon” until 1972. A diverse and multicultural country, the main staple food is rice that is consumed by all ethnic groups. The main ethnic groups of Sri Lanka are Singhalese, Tamils, and Muslims. Even though the food is same among all ethnic groups, there are minor variations between them in the preparation methods and the spices used to prepare the dishes.
This website mainly focuses on Jaffna Tamil recipes and to some extent other recipes. Jaffna (Yaalpanam) is a town located in the northern part of Sri Lanka which consists mainly of the ethnic group “Tamils”. The name “Yaalpanam” is derived from “Yaal” (means Harp) and “Panam” (means town) which means land of the Harp Player. Jaffna, which is dotted with beautiful Palmyrah trees, coconut trees farm lands, and surrounded by pristine beaches is the home of traditional Tamil cuisine.
Tamil cuisine mainly consists of steamed rice accompanied by spicy curries. Rice and curries are consumed for lunch, dinner and at special occasions. Break-fast and dinner mainly consists of food prepared from rice flour or wheat flour. For example Pittu and Idiyappam (called string hoppers in English) are the most common food eaten for break-fast and dinner. These dishes are also accompanied by spicy curries. Dosa, idly, chapathis and uppuma are also eaten for break-fast and dinner occasionally.
Normally Pittu is accompanied by coconut sambol, seeni sambol, and different kind of gravies (tomato gravy, eggplant gravy, fenugreek gravy etc), vegetable, mutton, chicken, and fish curries. Idiyappam is also accompanied by the above side dishes. But one important side dish used with Idiyappam is called Sothi made from boiling different vegetables in coconut milk. Dosa and idly are normally served with coconut chutney and sambar.
Even though Tamil cuisine is similar to south Indian cuisine, it has it’s own distinctive taste and spicier than most south Indian food. Coconut milk used in most Sri Lankan Tamil dishes gives them a unique flavor.
Tamil cuisine has some influence from the Portuguese, Dutch and the British cuisine. For example “lamprais” which is prepared by adding steamed rice, mutton curry, chicken curry, vegetable curries, and coconut milk on a banana leaf and baked on a moderate oven for about 20 minutes got the influence from the Dutch dish “Lomprijst”. Dutch and Portuguese sweets also continue to be quite popular.
Apart from all the above, Tamils and other Sri Lankans also have adapted to many western food. Cakes, pastries Cookies, and buiscuits are very common and used mainly at tea parties.