Sri Lankan Cuisine in London – Chronicling its Culinary Evolution

If the thought of steamed rice and fish curry, hoppers, sambal, kiribath, kottu, lamprais, and kavum excite you as a Londoner or bring back nostalgic memories of home as a tourist in London, you must have a fondness for Sri Lankan food. Burgeoning for years in the bustling capital of the United Kingdom, Sri Lankan cuisine has been evolving through the confluence of different cultures -particularly Dutch, Indonesian, and South Indian – over a span of several generations. Sri Lankan traditional food is usually prepared with a generous use of coconut milk, tomatoes, pepper, cardamom, and curry leaves-a marriage made in heaven! Surrounded by the sea on all sides, the island nation’s seafood is second to none. Varieties of saltwater fish, cuttlefish, prawns, lobsters, crabs, squid, and sprats are prepared to perfection in an assortment of grilling, frying, and slow-cooking techniques. In the UK, Sri Lankan food has undergone further transition: hot dishes have been made slightly milder to suit a wider range of palates while new preparations have been introduced that include the addition of British, Turkish, and Italian ingredients. Cheap flights from Colombo to London operate on a daily basis and can get you started on your survey of Sri Lankan food along the charming streets of the Big Smoke.

The culinary landscape of London has been changing through the centuries. Early influences of Saxon, Danish, Norman cooking before the Middle Ages yielded to the acquired flavors of South America, the Caribbean, and the Indian subcontinent – a byproduct of colonial interests. The establishment of Sri Lankan restaurants in London began in the 1950s with the migration of prominent Sri Lankan families to the British Isles. Most Sri Lankan restaurants in London today are clustered around Wembley and Westminster, which reveals the abiding popularity of Sri Lankan food in the thriving heart of the city.

  1. An ideal place to introduce yourself to this delectable South Asian cuisine in the British capital is Hoppers St Christopher’s Place on 77 Wigmore Street, an upscale traditional restaurant which, true to its name, serves up an extensive range of delicious hoppers. Drawing inspiration from the late Sri Lankan Tropical Modernist Geoffrey Bawa, the décor of this restaurant is astoundingly chic, providing the perfect accompaniment to a delicately flavored sambal or a glass of mellow arrack.
  2. Another great option is Palm Beach Restaurant on 17 Ealing Road, a peppy restaurant that earnestly exhibits all the vibrant colors of a Sri Lankan street market. Serving up a wide range of rotis, rolls, and rice dishes to be paired with succulent meat curries and kothus, spicy stir-fried vegetables, and authentic island desserts, this eatery has become a local favorite that many British Sri Lankans swear by.
  3. Dammika’s in Lower Grosvenor is a worthy choice for all manner of buffet lovers, coffee addicts, and amateur tipplers in London. Branding itself as a restaurant, bar, and coffee roaster, gastronomic versatility is undeniably Dammika’s strong suit. Smartly laid out on white table cloths, a guest at Dammika’s may choose to try out a popular favorite such as a plate of fish cutlets or king prawn devil, a fine cup of Espresso Choc, or a curry and rice meal, washed down with a glass of Sri Lankan Lion Beer.

The growing popularity of Sri Lankan cuisine in London is a blessing for expatriates and curious connoisseurs alike. Offering a one-of-a-kind alternative to more widely available South Asian cuisines such as Indian and Bangladeshi food, Sri Lankan dishes are expanding the frontiers of London’s gastronomic spectrum. With increasing numbers of tourists and business travelers taking flights from Colombo to London, the large number of Sri Lankan restaurants in the English capital is certain to provide an atmosphere of familiarity and comfort in the new city. Sri Lankan Airlines flies to the British capital every day so get your tickets to London today and experience a world of flavors to rightfully savor!

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