Your culinary experience in Sri Lanka is one that will create a lasting impression on your taste buds. From mouth-watering street food to spicy servings of fruits (better known as Achcharu), they all seem to have a strong but extremely irresistible flavour that keeps you wanting more. What exactly is it that makes Sri Lankan food taste so great? The answer lies in the tiny quantities of various spices that are sprinkled during the preparation of these delicious dishes. Read on to learn more about these dangerously divine secret ingredients that make Sri Lankan food not only taste amazing but creates a tempting aroma you can detect from miles away.
First on the list of popular spices is Pepper, also known as the ‘King of Spices’. Although it appears to be a simple dried berry, pepper dominates the spice trade around the world. There are many types of pepper like green and white pepper but black pepper which is the spiciest is the most commonly used and traded variety. Due to the rich aroma and spiciness pepper brings to dishes it is often used as a substitute for chillies. If you choose to stay in our amazing hotel in Jaffna you will get the chance to enjoy a famous dish of Northern Sri Lankan cuisine, Mulligatawny soup. The name of this curried soup actually means ‘Pepper water’ in Tamil and is one of the best ways to feel the bite of this famous spice.
The other dominant player in the spice trade is the ‘Queen of Spices’, Cardamom. And it comes to no surprise that Sri Lanka is home to many thriving cultivations of this valuable spice as well. Cardamom is used in almost every kind of dish and is a highlight of many wonderful delights prepared during festive seasons like Avurudu sweetmeats or Watalappan the amazing dessert you can enjoy especially during Ramadan season.
Ginger is a spice that has been recognised for its medicinal value from ancient times. Owing to this reputation and also the great flavour it brings, ginger has become one of the most widely used spices all around the world. In Sri Lanka you will see that a squashed piece of ginger is dropped into most curries and is even used in the beverage and confectionery industries. We highly recommend you try a warm cup of plain ginger tea that is served in almost every corner shop along with a snack so you can enjoy the flavour of this wonderful spice grown on home soil.
Sri Lanka has made a name for itself as one of the leading suppliers of the finest quality Cinnamon to the international market. After being introduced to us by the Dutch, cinnamon cultivation thrived over centuries making it a rich source of foreign income to the country. Most parts of the cinnamon tree are used for various purposes like flavouring for chocolates, sweets, and beverages including tea and alcohol. It is also known to possess high medicinal value as it is believed to be a rich source of antioxidants, protects brain and heart heath, and even can fight diabetes.
This little spice has a very pungent fragrance that makes it quite hard to ignore if present in excess. But it is a common spice found in most kitchens in Sri Lanka it is often used to add flavour to various curries and even sweets. Among the many health benefits cloves are known to provide, it is highly recommended by traditional Ayurvedic medicine to maintain good oral hygiene.
Other popular spices:
- Corriander (Koththamalli)– a flavouring agent used in curries and also a household remedy to treat a variety of ailments like fever and body pain.
- Turmeric aka saffron – an essential condiment, colouring agent, food preservative and also a known beauty care ingredient
- Curry leaves (Karapincha) – infuses a rich fragrance and flavour to most dishes – either added during preparation or fresh as a garnish
- Gamboge (Goraka) – a sour spice used as a thickening agent in most meat and fish curries
There are quite a number of spice gardens located towards the hill country of Sri Lanka. So if you book your stay in one of our popular hotels or cosy villas in the vicinity, you might want to pay a visit to a spice garden to see how these amazing flavouring agents are cultivated and processed. Also don’t forget to grab a few packs of each of the above from any supermarket or grocery store around the island so you prepare your own Sri Lankan style dishes back at home.