Vegan Breakfast in Sri Lanka

Vegan Food Quest small banner logo

Published December 2014

Vegan breakfast in Sri Lanka has to be one of our favourite mealtimes because there are so many options, which all just happen to be incredibly delicious as well as being 100% plant-based. There are a few vegan breakfast staples that make us fall in love with Sri Lankan cuisine all over again: hoppers, string hoppers, milkrice, coconut roti, sambols, kiri hodi, curry and dahl mmm delicious. Here’s our Vegan Food Quest lowdown on breakfast ‘must eats’ for vegans (& non-vegans too).

string hoppers, milk rice, cocnut roti and dosai with sambals, kiri hodi, vegetable curry and dahl at Jetwing Lagoon
Sri Lankan hoppers for breakfast at Cinnamon Red

Kola Kanda

Possibly one of the healthiest foods you’ll find in Sri Lanka, this thin herbal soup / porridge is made from medicinal green herbs used in Ayuervedic medicine, rice and coconut milk. It’s very light and plain, with a subtle green pea flavour (although this can change with the different herbs used). Kola kanda is served with a cube of jaggery which should be nibbled on after the soup is eaten, but this sweet treat is often no ordinary sugar cube, if you can find ‘kithul jaggery’ you’ll be eating a sugar that has health benefits that put refined cane sugars to shame. Kola Kanda with Karapincha (we know them as (‘Curry Leaves’) are excellent to protect against diabeties, are rich in anti-oxidents, are good for your hair, they’re high in vitamin A and calcium, they aid digestion and can be used to treat stomach upsets, ulcers and digestive problems. We’ve also come across ‘kurakkan kanda’ made from healthy red millet, it’s a thicker texture and doesn’t have that ‘green’ flavour but it’s equally as good, it’s soothing and creamy, high in calcium, iron and fibre as well as being very yummy indeed.

Karapincha Kola Kanda soup at Anilana Nilaveli
kurakkan kanda is full of calcium, iron and fibre and totally delicious

String Hoppers

We love string hoppers. String hoppers are rice noodles, steamed and piled up in little ‘nests’ just waiting for you to drench them in creamy coconut milk based ‘kiri hodi’ curry, they can be made from red or white rice (both varieties are delicious) and are surprisingly light. Delicious.

delicious string hoppers
Red rice flour string hoppers at Jetwing Lagoon

Kiribath (Milk Rice)

Red or white rice cooked in coconut milk and left to set into cubes of rich, soothing soft creamy loveliness,  served with sweet caramelised onion chutney ‘seeni sambol’ or spicy chilli based ‘lunumiris’ it’s a tasty start to any day. The rice grains stay whole and the coconut cream sticks them together producing a soft, moist cake of milkrice.

vegan kiribath in Sri Lanka
kiribath milk rice made with coconut milk and red rice at Jetwing Beach

Coconut Roti

Wheat flour unleavened breads, mixed with coconut and curry leaves and then griddled before being served with seeni sambol or lunimiris.

vegan coconut roti for breakfast in Sri Lanka


Sri Lankan Dosai tend to be thicher and softer than their thin, crispy Southern Indian counterparts. Made from a fermented rice batter, they are cooked on a griddle and go perfectly with coconut chutney, pol sambol, dahl and vegetable curries.

Sri Lankan dosai at Jetwing Vil Uyana


This steamed rice flour and coconut cake originated in Southern India (where they call it ‘puttu’). It’s very dry on it’s own so we recommend finding some kiri hodi or dahl to go with it… and don’t forget the symbol to spice it all up.

coconut flavoured pittu at Jetwing Beach


Another wonder made from fermented rice flour batter, these bowl shaped pancakes are cooked in special pans by pouring in the batter, swirling it around and then steaming them by putting the pan lid on. Cooked well, they’re crispy and toasty around the edges and soft, light and spongy in the middle. Yum. The other amazing thing about some of these dishes is that you can find them being served at other times of the day (especially hoppers which seem to make another appearance at teatime) so if you don’t manage to get our fill early on in the day, you always have another chance. Bonus.

vegan Sri Lankan hoppers at Heritance Kandalama
vegn hoppers for breakfast in Sri Lanka

Vegan Food Quest in Sri Lanka


Share This Story Via Social Media


  1. Sam December 21, 2014 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    This is perfect! My husband and I are planning a trip to Sri Lanka in the new year, and while it seems that a lot of the local food there is vegan, it’s been hard to find definitive answers about exactly what is and isn’t vegan. I’m so glad to hear there are so many vegan breakfast options, as that’s probably the time of day when I have the least patience to ask a million and one questions about whether the food contains dairy/eggs etc. Thanks!

    • Caryl December 24, 2014 at 10:01 am - Reply

      HI Sam
      Thanks for your comment, we can confirm the vegan food in Sri Lanka is plentiful! The one thing to watch out for is the adding of ‘Maldive Fish’ (basically dried tuna) to many dishes – we have some more Sri Lanka food guides coming soon so watch this space! In the meantime if you have ANY questions about SL please feel free to drop us a line…

  2. Charlie December 22, 2014 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Wow, what amazingly vibrant green colours! I absolutely love how delicious the milk rice and coconut roti looks, gosh wish I was eating that for lunch!!

    • Caryl December 24, 2014 at 10:02 am - Reply

      The milk rice is soooo tasty – we will certainly miss that when we leave!

  3. Franca December 22, 2014 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Breakfast for me is one of the most important meal of the day, if I skip it I can tell it’s already a bad start.
    I can easily see myself enjoying these very unusual dishes in the morning even if I would normally them at lunch or dinner. I particularly like the look of the red rice flour string hoppers drenched in ‘kiri hodi’ coconut gravy, only thinking about it makes my mouth water 🙂

    • Caryl December 24, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

      I am making the mistake of replying to this before breakfast whilst very hungry and my stomach is rumbling at the thought of more Sri Lankan delights:) We have got used to eating curry 3 times a day although I must admit we went out for pasta and salad last night which was very tasty although 3 times as expensive as rice and curry and nowhere near as filling!

      If we don’t touch base before have a great Xmas x

  4. Saman April 22, 2017 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Wow this meal is really enticing. Looks like you tried some wonderful foods in Lanka. My personal fave is Milk rice and Katta or Pol Sambol.

    • Vegan Food Quest April 26, 2017 at 12:29 pm - Reply

      We love the food in Sri Lanka Saman! I’m always happy to see milk rice 😉 Caryl

Leave A Comment

Go to Top