Iconic Ramadan Foods in Sri Lanka

By Poornima S | 21, Apr, 2022
Iconic Ramadan Foods in Sri Lanka

Ramadan in Sri Lanka offers a delightful and enriching experience, bringing together communities across the country to observe, pray, fast, and share cherished moments together with loved ones. If you are traveling in Sri Lanka during Ramadan, this article takes a look at what you can expect in terms of Ramadan food traditions and must-try Iftar food.

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Ramadan in Sri Lanka

As the holiest month for Muslims in the country, Ramadan commences early to mid-April via the sighting of the moon and is an extremely important time of the year where a number of customs and traditions are practiced. Once Ramadan begins, Muslims in Sri Lanka follow the fast by abstaining from meals from dawn to dusk and celebrate the festival unfailingly. The period is also seen as a time for families to get together and practice religious devotion together, helping everyone focus on the spiritual aspects of their lives.

During fasting, locals wake up early morning around 3 am or 4 am to pray and have a meal before commencing their fast. Men usually head to the mosque for Fajar while women pray at home. Following a quick nap, people begin their day-to-day work, with the daytime being more relaxed for most people compared to the rest of the year. Certain workplaces have relaxed working hours while housewives also get more free time as they do not need to prepare meals in the afternoon. In the evening, working men and women return home to await Maghrib in order to break fast - a special occasion every day where households prepare a number of delicious meals and dishes for the entire family.

During prayer times, mosques across the country are full of people eager to offer prayers together. Mosques also make special arrangements to distribute food amongst communities to break fast - something that is even extended to people of different faiths. It is common for people of different faiths to stop by the mosques to help themselves to Iftar meals, something that is happily provided by local mosques to anyone.

 

Ramadan Iftar Food in Sri Lanka

Muslim travelers visiting Sri Lanka during Ramadan are offered a wide range of food options when it comes to Suhoor and Iftar meals. It is a time when most streets in cities see a number of food stalls opening by evening, offering a number of snacks and food items to choose from. All leading hotels in the country also provide a mouthwatering spread of Iftar menu items, which is another option that can be considered. Though the types of food on offer are numerous and varied, here are a few Iftar food ideas that you simply must try when traveling in Sri Lanka during Ramadan.

 

Kanji

Kanji is a type of rice porridge that is one of the most famous dishes during Ramadan in Sri Lanka. This milky rice porridge is available in various forms - be it chicken or beef - and is slow-cooked with garlic and flavored with coconut milk for a uniquely distinct taste. A steaming bowl of kanji is a staple in almost every home during Ramadan and is often prepared by most mosques in large quantities to serve local communities. The incredible texture and aroma of this dish also make it a great comfort food, making it loved by many.

 

Samosas
Samosas served on a platter

Image Credit: kabir cheema on Unsplash

This is another much-loved snack during Ramadan in Sri Lanka. Though samosas are pretty popular across a number of Asian and African countries, Samosas in Sri Lanka are believed to have their own distinct flair - particularly during Ramadan. Most roadside stalls that open during Ramadan have massive amounts of these savory snacks on display, to which people flock in numbers by evening. Colombo also features a number of samosa joints that really up their game during Ramadan. The snack itself is available in a number of versions - beef (which is the most popular option), chicken, or even vegetarian. The flavor, filling, and crispiness of each samosa depends on the method of preparation so you might have to try a few before you find a place that caters to your unique preference!

 

Pakoras

Most street food stalls during Ramadan also offer a variety of pakoras to choose from - a popular snack option during Iftar. Loved for their crispiness and crunchy texture, pakoras are chickpea flour fritters that typically feature potatoes & onion that are batter-fried together with spices for added flavor. Though they are normally served as appetizers or eaten as a snack, pakoras are a star of the show on most Iftar tables at home.

 

Faluda
Cups of Faluda beverage

Image Credit: VD Photography on Unsplash

This deliciously sweet and filling beverage typically consists of rose syrup, milk, ice- cream, tukmaria seeds (also referred to as kasa kasa), and jelly (optional). It is another must-have during Ramadan in Sri Lanka due to its incredible milkshake flavor that is unique and exotic, especially if you're not from the South Asian region. The drink is known for its distinct bright pink color and is served at most restaurants - the perfect choice if you're looking to unwind with a refreshing beverage in the evening after a tiring day.

 

Biryani

Biryanis are a serious affair and there's no better way to mark a special occasion than with a grand biriyani feast. This mouth-watering rice dish is usually the hero during Eid celebrations and is loved for its delightfully meaty and well-spiced up flavours. A complete biryani meal is enjoyed together with sides such as salads, raita, eggs and more, with the aromas of saffron, cardamom & other spices making it a dish that most people crave to have. Choose from several biriyani versions – chicken, beef, mutton or even vegetarian - which are widely available across a number of Halal restaurants in the country.

 

Watalappan
Watalappan in Sri Lanka

Image Credit: Ji-ElleCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sri Lankan watalappan is a popular creamy coconut custard dessert made with traditional Kitul Jaggery (a sweetener made out of local Kithul palm trees) together with warming spices such as cardamom and nutmeg. The dessert has been strongly identified with the country's Muslim community and has evolved to become a part of traditional Eid celebrations in Sri Lanka. Following Eid, it is common for locals to distribute servings of watalappan amongst friends and loved ones as a part of celebrating Eid.

In addition to the above list of Iftar food ideas when traveling in Sri Lanka, there are various other dishes and snacks that you can sample during Ramadan such as shawarmas, hummus, roti, kebabs, patties, rolls, and more. Most locals choose to break fast with a date and later proceed to their favorite Iftar meals. Any restaurant will provide you with recommendations of their specialty Iftar dishes that you ought to try out. Most locals are extremely friendly and will warmly welcome you generously with advice and recommendations when traveling in the country during Ramadan.

If you're traveling to Sri Lanka this year during Ramadan, below are a few Muslim-friendly guides that may help you out. Halal restaurants are readily available across Colombo as well as several other areas across the country, making it quite easy to access Halal food options.

You may also be interested in our other articles:

Ramadan 2022 in Sri Lanka

Muslim-friendly City Guide to Colombo

If you have any queries or need any further tips, do reach out to us!

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