Ever wondered what sweet delights the tropical paradise of Sri Lanka has to offer? Pairing unique flavors and exotic ingredients, Sri Lankan desserts are a true culinary adventure, but with so many options, it can be challenging to know where to start.
The country’s rich culinary heritage has given rise to an array of desserts that are as diverse as they are delicious, with influences from Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, and British cuisine.
Dive into this guide to discover the 20 most popular Sri Lankan desserts, ranging from the creamy and coconutty ‘Watalappan’ to the deep-fried sweetness of ‘Kokis’. Each dessert on this list is a testament to the country’s love for sweets and the intricate flavors that define its culinary landscape.
Get ready to indulge in a sweet journey through Sri Lanka’s most cherished treats, and find out which desserts have captivated the hearts and taste buds of locals and travelers alike!
In A Rush? Key Takeaways:
- Diverse Flavors: Sri Lankan desserts are a unique blend of local and colonial influences, resulting in a rich variety of flavors.
- Coconut is King: Many Sri Lankan desserts feature coconut in various forms, be it milk, grated, or oil.
- Sweet Treats for Every Occasion: From festive celebrations to everyday indulgences, there’s a dessert for every moment.
- A Culinary Adventure: Sampling these desserts is not just a treat for your taste buds, but a journey through Sri Lanka’s culinary history and culture.
Watalappan, a traditional Sri Lankan dessert, is a delectable coconut custard that’s widely popular for its rich, creamy texture and flavourful aroma. The dessert is usually made with a handful of simple ingredients, including coconut milk, eggs, jaggery or brown sugar, cardamom, and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.
The mixture is whisked together and poured into a dish, which is then steamed until the custard sets. . The custard takes on a warm caramel hue from the jaggery or brown sugar, and the fragrant spices add a hint of exotic sweetness. As it melts in your mouth, the creamy texture of the custard along with the warm, comforting spices makes it a treat that’s hard to resist.
Aluwa is a traditional Sri Lankan pudding made from rice flour, coconut milk, jaggery (a type of sugar made from palm sap), and cashew nuts. As it cooks, the mixture thickens and is pressed into a flat, square shape. Once it has cooled and solidified, it is cut into slices and served as a sweet treat.
One of the reasons why Aluwa is so popular in Sri Lanka is because of its unique, sweet flavor and distinctive texture. The combination of rice flour and coconut milk creates a soft, creamy consistency, while the jaggery adds a rich, caramel-like sweetness. The cashew nuts provide a delicious crunch and nuttiness that balances out the creamy base.
Helapa, also known as “pinni” in some regions of Sri Lanka, is a traditional Sri Lankan dessert made of sweet dough, wrapped in a banana leaf, and steamed to perfection. The dough is made of rice flour, grated coconut, jaggery (a type of cane sugar), and cardamom powder.
The mixture is formed into small balls, flattened and then wrapped in a banana leaf before steaming. Once cooked, the banana leaf imparts a unique flavor and aroma to the sweet dough. The combination of the sweet dough and the subtle flavor of the banana leaf makes Helapa a delicious Sri Lankan dessert that is loved by locals and tourists alike.
Kevum, also known as Oil Cake, is one of Sri Lanka’s most flavorful and indulgent desserts. Kevum is made from a combination of rice flour, treacle, and coconut milk. A pinch of salt, cardamom, and cinnamon are also added to the mix, giving it a rich and fragrant aroma.
The dough is then shaped into small balls and deep-fried until crispy, golden-brown crunchiness settles over the surface. Once cooled, Kevum becomes deliciously sticky and chewy, and might stick to the roof of your mouth if you’re not careful!
Bibikkan, also known as Coconut Cake, is a Sri Lankan delicacy that has captured the hearts of many around the world. It is a rich and delicious cake made with fresh grated coconut, jaggery, and a mix of aromatic spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon. What makes this cake stand out is its unique texture and taste.
The cake is dense and moist, with a perfect balance of sweetness and spice that keeps you coming back for more. This cake is traditionally made during festive occasions and family gatherings, where it is served with hot tea or coffee. But nowadays, it has become a staple dessert in Sri Lankan households and restaurants across the globe.
Sultana Cake, also known as Sri Lankan Fruit Cake, is a delectable dessert that is a staple in Sri Lankan households during the holiday season. The cake is typically made with a generous mix of dried fruits, including sultanas, raisins, and candied peel. It also includes rich, fragrant spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom, which gives this cake a distinctive flavor and aroma.
Each bite of the Sultana Cake is packed with a delightful burst of juicy sultanas and succulent raisins. The addition of the spices enhances the flavor profile, creating a warm and comforting sensation in the mouth. T
Athirasa (Sweet Pastry)
Athirasa, also known as Konda Kavum, is a classic Sri Lankan sweet pastry that commonly features in the country’s new year celebrations. This treasured treat is made by blending rice flour and treacle, which is then molded into small flattened disks and deep-fried into golden perfection.
The crispy exterior of the pastry gives way to a chewy, syrupy center that oozes with the rich flavors of coconut and jaggery. Athirasa has a unique taste that is both sweet and savory, making it the perfect dessert to satisfy any craving.
Kalu Dodol, also known as “black cake,” is a popular Sri Lankan dessert that is loved for its sticky and gooey texture as well as its unique blend of flavors. This dish is made by combining rice flour, coconut milk, jaggery (palm sugar), and a variety of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves.
The mixture is then cooked over low heat for several hours until it thickens and takes on a luscious dark brown color. he end result is a delightful sweet that is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. The texture of Kalu Dodol is uniquely sticky and chewy, making it an enjoyable treat to sink your teeth into. The mixture of spices and jaggery also creates a complex blend of flavors that is both sweet and slightly bitter, making this dish a standout in Sri Lankan cuisine.
Dosi, also known as Candied Fruits, is an incredibly delicious Sri Lankan dessert that is made by cooking fruit in a sweet syrup until it becomes candied and coated in a sticky, aromatic glaze. The recipe usually includes a variety of fruits such as pineapple, papaya, mango, and jackfruit, which are peeled, sliced, and boiled in a mixture of sugar, water, and spices.
The spices used may include cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves, which add a warm and fragrant flavor to the dish. Once the fruits have absorbed the syrup and caramelized, they are left to cool and then enjoyed as a sweet and flavorful dessert or snack.
Aasmi is a delightful fried confectionery that hails from Sri Lanka. With its unique shape and mouth-watering sweetness, it is no wonder why this dessert is so popular amongst locals and tourists alike. To prepare it, you will need a batter of rice flour, semolina and coconut milk, which is then carefully piped into hot oil to create its iconic lacy texture.
Once fried, it is dunked into a sugar syrup infused with cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, infusing each piece with aromatic and intense sweetness. Aasmi is a perfect example of the blend of vibrant spices and fragrant sweetness that is intrinsic in Sri Lankan cuisine. Its crispy exterior that gives way to a soft and chewy interior is a textural delight that will leave you craving for more.
Wali Thalapa is a popular Sri Lankan sweet dish that is made from rice flour, coconut milk, jaggery, and spices. It is a steamed dessert that is soft, chewy, and has a slightly crunchy texture due to the shredded coconut. The aromatic flavor of cardamom adds a unique taste to the dessert, making it an irresistible treat.
Not only is it delicious, but it is also an easy dessert to prepare. The combination of the fragrant coconut milk, spices, and jaggery makes for a unique and sweet flavor that is sure to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.
Kiri Aluwa, also known as Milk Toffee, is a delectable Sri Lankan dessert that is adored by locals and visitors alike. This dessert is rich, creamy, and melt-in-your-mouth, making it the perfect sweet treat for any occasion. The recipe for Kiri Aluwa involves simmering milk and sugar together with cardamom and butter, until it thickens and caramelizes into a tempting golden-brown toffee.
From the moment you bite into its soft, chewy goodness, you’ll be swept away by its richness and depth of flavor. Whether you’re looking for a sweet ending to a meal or just want to indulge in a delicious snack, Kiri Aluwa is guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.
Lavariya, also known as String Hopper Dumplings, is one of the most popular desserts in Sri Lanka. This delicious treat is made by grinding rice flour and mixing it with hot water to form a dough. The dough is then extruded into thin, delicate strings which are curled into small nests and steamed until cooked.
Once the string hoppers have cooled down, they are seasoned with a mixture of grated coconut, salt and sugar, and finally served with a sweet coconut milk sauce infused with aromatic pandan leaves.
Peni Walalu is a traditional Sri Lankan dessert that is popular among both young and old. It is a unique combination of flavors and textures that create a mouthwatering experience for the taste buds. Made with coconut, jaggery, flour, and spices, the dessert is shaped like a small ball that is flattened and fried until golden brown.
The mixture is then allowed to cool and harden slightly before being dusted with powdered sugar and served. The sweetness of the jaggery, which is a type of unrefined sugar widely used in Sri Lankan cuisine, is balanced by the nuttiness of the coconut and the aromatic spices.
It is made from a batter of rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, and eggs which is shaped into intricate designs and deep-fried until crispy. The result is a beautiful, golden-brown and crunchy snack that is sweet, fragrant and utterly delicious.
Kokis is uniquely Sri Lankan and its flavor profile is a delightful blend of coconutty, sweet, and subtle spice notes. Its crunchy texture makes it an ideal snack to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee, and its intricate designs make it an especially beautiful addition to any dessert spread.
Aggala is a beloved Sri Lankan sweet treat that is a mixture of rice flour, jaggery, coconut, and cardamom. These ingredients are combined together to form balls that are then deep-fried until they are crispy and golden brown. This dessert is known for its unique texture and flavors, which are a delightful blend of sweet, nutty, and aromatic spices.
The combination of the sweet jaggery, rich coconut, and flavorful cardamom makes Aggala a delicious dessert that is perfect for satisfying your sweet cravings. The crispy exterior of the Aggala gives way to a soft and chewy center that is bursting with flavor.
Thala Guli is a delightful Sri Lankan dessert that is loved by many. It is a sweet ball made with a coconut and jaggery filling that is then coated in rice flour before being fried or steamed. The combination of the soft, chewy exterior and the sweet, coconut filling make for a flavor explosion that will leave you wanting more.
Jaggery is a traditional sweetener used in Sri Lankan cuisine that is made from the sap of palm trees. It has a unique flavor that is slightly earthy and caramel-like, giving Thala Guli a distinct taste that cannot be replicated with regular sugar.
Kirala drink is a refreshing and sweet beverage that is popular in Sri Lanka. Made from the fruit of the Kirala tree, this drink has a unique flavor that is hard to describe. The Kirala tree is native to Sri Lanka and the fruit is only harvested during certain months of the year, making this drink a rare treat for locals and visitors alike.
The pulp is then added to a blender with water and sugar and blended until smooth. The juice is then strained through a fine sieve and served cold with ice. The resulting drink is sweet, slightly tangy and has a delicate, floral taste that is truly unique.
Sri Lankan Lamprais is a traditional dish made with a combination of rice, meat, and vegetables, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. Lamprais is a Dutch word that translates to “packaged meal,” and the dish has its origins in the Dutch colonial era in Sri Lanka.
The preparation process is quite intricate, involving slow-cooked meats, aromatic spices, and fragrant rice. The components are then layered in a banana leaf and steamed until the flavors meld together.
Kiri Dodol is a traditional Sri Lankan dessert that is made from the finest ingredients to create a timeless delicacy that has been enjoyed for generations. This sweet treat is made by slowly cooking coconut milk, rice flour, and jaggery until it transforms into a thick, caramel-like substance. The mixture is then molded into small squares and served with grated coconut on top. The texture is chewy and sticky, making it perfect for a satisfying and decadent dessert.
The creamy and rich coconut milk is complemented by the sweetness of the jaggery, which is a type of unrefined sugar that is commonly used in Sri Lankan cooking. When heated, it forms a smooth and thick syrup that adds depth and complexity to the final product. The use of rice flour ensures that the dessert has a chewy consistency that is unlike any other.
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