Sri Lanka’s cuisine is one of its best-kept secrets. Light and easy on the belly, it’s a fantastic combination of nutritious ingredients and delicate flavours.

Steaming string hoppers and spicy Sambal , accompanied by a cup of fragrant Ceylon Tea, start the day on a high note. Hoppers are the Sri Lankan equivalent of a pancake, blended with coconut, onions, sugar, chillies and a variety of other spices. Throw an egg in the mix and a side of tropical fruit and a glass of tender coconut water, and you have a hearty breakfast that fuels you throughout the day.

Vegetarian? Don’t worry. Polos, a baby jackfruit, is a popular ingredient in everything from cutlets to curry, while fresh veggies like eggplant are used liberally.

Coconut and cashewnuts are used to create sauces and curries, while lentils (dal) are popular as well. Sri Lankans also add native herbs like Gotu Kola (pennywort), cinnamon, cardamom and curry leaves, to spice up their cooking.

Being an island, seafood is popular and absolutely delicious. The fresh catch from the Indian Ocean often includes snapper, tuna, and enormous crabs.

While you’re in Colombo, indulge your seafood craving, and head over to the Ministry of Crab for some of the best seafood in town.

Pamper your taste buds when you head to Galle.

 The Old Railway Café in Galle has a quirky, boho chic vibe that reflects the spirit of the city, while Serendipity Arts Café is great for light and tasty international cuisine, with a touch of art thrown in for good measure.  If you need a rice and curry fix, there’s one at every corner, but Spoon’s Café in Galle is a classic. Home-cooking from hole-in-the-wall cafes like Bookworm in Hikkeduwa or contemporary Sri Lankan gastronomy from Michelin Star restaurants like Botanica, which are located along the south coast, add to the flavour and the ambience.

Dining in Sri Lanka is usually a relaxed affair. You can’t go wrong with a place like Café Chill in Ella.

Casual and fun, great food and friendly service make this an all time favourite. If you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up then head over to Little Folly in Ella for a steaming cuppa and a slice of cake fresh out of the oven. If you’re too busy exploring to sit down and eat, then grab a bite of Kottu Roti from a sidewalk food cart to keep you going. Little pieces of fried flat bread are tossed with a variety of veggies or meat to create comfort food, Sri Lankan style.

After a hot day out on the town, a cool cocktail is just the ticket. Try a splash of the local dark rum with coconut water, or a margarita made with local passion fruit. The Sri Lankans like to drink a heady native brew called Arak, which gives you a delightful buzz.

What would Sri Lanka be without a taste of Ceylon Tea? Immerse yourself in tea-culture with a tea expert, as you discover the different flavours and types of leaves. If you like your tea with a hearty snack, then head over to the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, the perfect place to kick back, relax and unwind as you watch the sun go down on the Indian Ocean.

Is your mouth watering already? A foodie journey to Sri Lanka with Encounters Asia is the experience of a lifetime.