Why is Sri Lankan Breakfast One of the Best Meals on Earth?

A full Sri Lankan Breakfast with hoppers
A full Sri Lankan Breakfast with hoppers | Orana Velarde | Personal Photo

Sri Lanka Hub Writer

The Sri Lankan breakfast is similar to the English breakfast in that it is complete, memorable and unbeatable. With one main serving of a bread-type dish surrounded by curries and sambols, the Sri Lankan breakfast has become a major attraction when visiting the island. It is not difficult to find a good Sri Lankan breakfast, most hotels serve it and if not, there are plenty of restaurants that do too.

What’s included in the Sri Lankan breakfast

Sri Lankan breakfast comes in combinations, there are the simple versions and more complicated ones comprising lots of different dishes. The combination is usually a kind of doughy dish made with rice flour or coconut flour, this is used to scoop the other dishes with. These can be either rotti, pol rotti, hoppers, egg hoppers, or string hoppers. Sometimes there is also red heirloom rice. Sri Lankans eat with their hands but they will provide cutlery just in case you aren’t willing to try it their way.


Hoppers are a type of pancake made from rice flour and coconut milk. They can either be prepared plain or with a fried egg in the middle. String hoppers are made with rice flour and pressed through a hopper press to make a sort of nest. Then they are arranged on hopper mats and steamed.

Simple Egg Hopper Breakfast with tomato and onion sambol.


Dahl is a type of curry made with orange lentils, sri lankan spices and coconut milk. It is the staple of every Sri Lankan breakfast and sometimes also lunch and dinner. Depending on the cook, dahl curry can be prepared runny or thick. The idea is that it’s to be scooped with the doughy bread, (the rotti or hopper).

Cream Dahl Curry with coconut milk


Apart from the breads and the dahl, a Sri Lankan breakfast will almost certainly include another type of curry, either potato, chicken or sometimes even fish curry. Potato curry is a soupy kind of curry with lots of coconut milk and soft potato chunks. Chicken and fish curries are served in the Sri Lankan style which is a bit drier than Indian curry but with no less spice. These are also meant to be scooped with the breads or eaten by hand.

All kinds of Sri Lankan curries ready to eat


Sambols is a type of side dish that is eaten along with any meal in Sri Lanka. The most common sambol is pol sambol, prepared with grated coconut and plenty of chili. Another kind of sambol commonly eaten with hoppers or egg hoppers is seeni sambol, a caramelized onion concoction with lots of chili. Another favorite is passion fruit leaf sambol, which is made of leaves cut up quite small mixed with grated coconut. Last but not least are katta sambol and luni miris sambol which are both made from chilies of different kinds.

A served plate of Sri Lankan String Hopper breakfast with potato curry, pol sambol, dahl curry and a boiled egg

Touring Sri Lanka? Find your perfect stay with Culture Trip, whether you’re looking for the best hotels in Colombo, the top places to stay near Mirissa or the finest hotels in Nuwara Eliya. You could even whip up your own breakfast in a Sri Lankan villa.

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