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Sri Lanka’s national dish is unmistakeably rice and curry. Rice and curry doesn’t simply include one type of curry, but several kinds. This meal is a great big platter made up of rice and at least three different curries around it placed near the rice. Rice and curry dishes are customarily eaten by hand, an art easy to master after a couple of tries.
Chicken curry is one of the most loved and easy to find curries on the island. Cooked with roasted curry powers, curry leaves, plenty of chilli and some lemongrass to boot, Sri Lankan chicken curry is a must-have when choosing curries for a rice and curry spread.
Classic Sri Lankan fish curry is similar to chicken curry with the greatest difference being that it’s quite a bit juicier due to the addition of coconut milk. It’s best to use a firm fish, like tuna, yet it’s also quite common to make it using mackerel.
For vegetarians, young jackfruit curry is the best – and tastiest – option. Cooked with plenty of spices, like cumin and turmeric, jackfruit can either be chopped up into cubes or into thin strips resembling pulled chicken or pork. To make it juicy, add coconut milk and let it simmer for a few minutes.
Dhal curry is almost as important as rice in every Sri Lankan home. Creamy dhal curry is cooked with turmeric and fenugreek, among other spices, to create a delicious homey flavour. Dhal curry is made with orange split lentils that have been washed three times before cooking to soften them to create a delicious soup-like dish.
Along with usual chicken and fish curries, or dhal curry, there is one particular vegetable-based curry. Even though it isn’t the most common, it really is quite spectacular. The beetroot is cut into thin slices and cooked in the usual delicate spices of vegetable curries. The special flavour of beetroot curry is crunchy, sweet and spicy all at once and you literally cannot eat just one bite.
Another homey curry – and one that is usually enjoyed for breakfast as a companion to string hoppers – is the potato curry. Delightfully creamy with firm potato chunks and bits of onion, this curry is best eaten with a spoon!