Sweet dishes are an essential part of Sri Lankan food. Many Sri Lankan desserts are specifically prepared to celebrate religious festivals, social gatherings, or New Year. Every Buddhist and Hindu household makes these delicious sweets to adorn their New Year’s dinner table.
If you ever visit a Sri Lankan house during the festival, you will get to taste these amazing Sri Lankan delicacies. Each region will offer you its unique cultural and traditional flavors.
What Is Special About Sri Lankan Desserts?
Sri Lanka is globally known for its sweet dishes and Sri Lankan desserts. The island is enriched with spices and herbal flavors. The desserts here are usually served after main meals however sweets are also a part of evening tea.
Sweets in Sri Lanka contain many local spices, jaggery, treacle, and kithul palm syrup. Cinnamon is also a widely utilized Sri Lankan spice. It has a sweet and delicate taste, giving the typical local flavor to these irresistible treats.
Here are some of the best Sri Lankan desserts and sweets to try.
Famous Sri Lankan Desserts – Puddings
Watalappan (Coconut Custard)
When in Sri Lanka, you must try this dessert! The Watalappan (Coconut Custard) is the most famous and tasty sweet dish among Sri Lankan desserts. It is a mouthwatering coconut custard, prepared with coconut milk, jaggery or sugar, eggs, and cardamom.
Watalappan is traditionally a dessert from the Muslim community, but today it has become a staple in Sri Lankan desserts for all. It is available in almost all restaurants in Sri Lanka. When you try this delicious and creamy coconut pudding, you are going to fall in love with it.
Tapping on the popularity of Avoadoes, this is one of the most common Sri Lankan desserts.
The main ingredients of this Sri Lankan food are ripe avocado, sugar, cream, and rum. Avocados are scooped out, mashed, and combined with heavy cream to create this masterpiece.
Before serving, it is refrigerated and topped with nuts and extra whipped cream. A splash of Rum can be a good option if you want an addition of alcohol to your dessert. You can also enjoy it as a milkshake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
You will find this on the menu of many restaurants throughout the country. Don’t forget to give this a try when you are contemplating desserts in Sri Lanka.
Aluwa (Sri Lankan Pudding)
Aluwa is another traditional Sri Lankan dessert that is very popular among locals and visitors. It is also known as pani aluwa, seeni aluwa, and meegamu aluwa.
Aluwa is similar to pudding but served in diamond or square shapes. Among the various Sri Lankan desserts, aluwa tend to get more attention at the New Year’s table.
It is prepared with rice flour or potatoes, cardamom, and cashew nuts. Like many other Sri Lanka sweets, this pure delight has many variations. You can enjoy semolina or cashew aluwa from local sweet stores.
Helapa (Sweet Dough Wrapped In A Leaf)
Halapa is one of the most conventional desserts in Sri Lanka. It is a famous village-style evening snack, locally known as “sweet meat.”
This famous Sri Lankan food is prepared by cooking kurakkan flour, rice flour, treacle, cardamom, and grated coconut together. The prepared ingredients are then mixed together until the dough achieves the required consistency. This dough is flattened on kanda leaves, folded, and heated to make it harder.
To get the best experience out of this delicious Sri Lankan dessert, enjoy it with a cup of tea!
Curd And Treacle
This Sri Lankan food is very famous, especially in the Southern regions. But you can still find many roadside stalls or shops selling this delicious curd everywhere in the country. A specialty of this curd is that it is prepared in a clay pot which makes it tastier and fresh.
The curd is made using buffalo milk and honey instead of cow milk and sugar. Buffalo milk is tastier and thicker compared to cow milk.
The preparation of curd is very easy and simple, relying on a natural fermentation process. Spoons of old curd are added to boiled milk for fermentation. Kithul treacle is then added to the ready-made curd, giving it the perfect sweetness.
Sri Lankan Desserts – Cakes And Pastries
Kevum (Oil Cake)
Kevum is a traditional Sri Lankan oil cake that has a special place among other Sri Lankan desserts. It is usually served during the celebrations of the New Year.
This Sri Lankan delicacy is made with treacle, rice flour, and many other ingredients for flavoring. You can find different varieties of this famous Sri Lankan food, but the most popular one is mung kevum which uses mung bean flour in its preparation.
All the ingredients of kevum are mixed into a paste, molded into a diamond shape, and then deep-fried to create this delicious goodness.
Bibikkan (Coconut Cake)
Bibikkan is also known as Sri Lankan coconut cakes. These are rich and dark-colored Sri Lankan desserts enriched with traditional flavors. Bibikkan has a sticky, moist, and chewy texture with a decadent coconut taste.
The Sri Lankan coconut cake is often drenched in dark and thick kithul treacle. It is also adorned with exotic spices and exquisite nuts to give you an unforgettable experience. This is one of those Sri Lankan sweets that will offer you a sensual warmth of sweetness and the boldness of spices.
Sultana Cake (Sri Lankan Fruit Cake)
The Sultana cake of Sri Lanka is not your typical light and fluffy cake. Instead, it is a crumbly, moist, and sticky cake. It is soft from the middle and has a caramelized crunchy texture on top.
The sultanas absorb the moisture from the cake, thereby becoming plumpy and juicy. They give you a sweet and tart flavor when you bite into them, making a perfect pair with creamy cake.
This famous Sri Lankan food can be found at any local sweet shop. You can enjoy it as an evening snack with a hot cup of tea.
Athirasa (Sweet Pastry)
Also known as Amutharasam or Athirasa, it is a flavorful sweet in Sri Lankan food. Once you try it, it is easy to see why everyone likes this delicious dessert.
All the ingredients (rice flour, fried rice, coconut syrup, coconut oil, and cardamom) of this dessert are mixed into a paste. The paste is then flattened into circles, and fried in hot oil. It looks fluffy and has crispy edges.
When traveling during the festival season, you will find Athirasa along with other Sri Lankan sweets like Kokis, Aluva, and Keum. So as you are indulging in all the famous desserts in Sri Lanka, don’t forget this one.
Sri Lankan Desserts – Sweets And Candies
Kalu Dodol (Sri Lankan Sticky Sweets)
Kalu dodol is one of those Sri Lankan desserts that is impossible not to love. This sweet actually originated from Indonesia but is now a popular food in Sri Lanka. The town of Hambantota is famous for Kalu-Dodol, and tourists often visit this place to enjoy this Sri Lankan delicacy.
Kalu dodol is a dark brown jelly-like candy made with ingredients like kithul jaggery, rice flour, and coconut. Furthermore, cashews, cardamom, and raisins are added to enhance the flavor of these sweets in Sri Lanka.
Due to the complicated and lengthy process of making kalu dodol, most people prefer buying it from stores.
Dosi (Candied Fruits)
Dosi is a domestic confectionery in Sri Lankan cuisine. It tastes and looks like preserved and candied fruits. You can find some variations with the addition of cardamom, cinnamon, or rose essence.
To make these scrumptious Sri Lankan sweets, fruits are boiled with a sugar syrup which they absorb for flavor. After cooling, the sugar is crystallized on both the inside and outer surfaces of the fruits.
These traditional Sri Lankan desserts are served as a sweet dish after meals or as an evening snack. It is also a popular part of weddings, religious festivals, and family celebrations and functions.
Aasmi (Fried Confectionery)
Aasmi is a deep-fried snack in Sri Lankan desserts. It is served on special events like weddings, birthdays, or New Year.
It has rich flavors of rice flour, coconut milk, and cinnamon leaves. All the ingredients are mixed and deep-fried in coconut oil. The fried Aasmi is rested for a few days and then deep-fried again.
Before serving, these Sri Lankan sweets are soaked in colored sugar syrup to give an exquisite flavor to them. Sounds sinful? Yes but also incredibly yummy.
Wali Thalapa (Sri Lankan Sweets)
Wali Thalapa is a famous Sri Lankan delicacy that is hard to forget once you try it. It is a special dessert prepared for celebrations, holidays, and family gatherings. This sticky dessert is equally famous among kids and adults.
Wali thalapa is made from honey and rice flour. The rice flour beads are steamed and mixed with treacle. This mixture is then chopped into little pieces to make wali thalapa.
Since treacle serves as a binding agent to combine the steamed flour beads, a large amount is added to it. The treacle also gives a sweet and slightly bitter flavor to these heavenly desserts in Sri Lanka.
Kiri Aluwa (Milk Toffee)
Also known as Milk Toffee, it is one of the best and most demanding sweets in Sri Lanka. This Sri Lankan milk toffee has a smooth texture and a sweetness of caramelized milk that just melts in your mouth.
To prepare milk toffee, condensed milk is boiled and simmered with sugar. Chopped cashew nuts are then added to give richness to this dessert.
You can easily find these sweets of Sri Lanka in any sweet shop, grocery store, or supermarket. Don’t leave the country without trying these delicious Sri Lankan desserts.
Famous Sri Lankan Sweets – Dumplings And Cookies
Lavariya (String Hopper Dumplings)
Seen as a kind of sweet coconut dumpling, this is one of the most famous traditional desserts in Sri Lanka.
Lavariya is made with caramelized coconut dough wrapped in string hoppers. The coconut dough also contains jaggery and moong dal, giving a unique flavor to this heavenly dessert.
It is a popular and common even snack and even breakfast food in Sri Lanka. Lavariya is typically served with tea to balance out the sweetness.
Peni Walalu (Honey Rings)
Also known as unduwel, this is one of those Sri Lankan desserts that appeal to the general population. It is very similar to the Indian sweet dish, Jalebi. However, kids are the biggest fan of this Sri Lankan food.
A combination of Ulundu and rice flour enriched with coconut milk and honey creates the sweet taste in peni walalu. These crunchy deep-fried candies are further filled with sugar syrup to satisfy your sweet cravings.
The preparation process is complicated and very time-consuming. That is why many people prefer to buy these Sri Lankan sweets from a sweet shop rather than make them at home. Without a doubt, you are going to love these honey rings.
Kokis (Rosette Cookies)
Who doesn’t love cookies? Kokis is a crunchy and coconutty Sri Lankan snack. Some places also call it Achu murukku. This dish actually come from Dutch origins, but today it’s considered one of the traditional and popular Sri Lankan sweets.
The main ingredients of this dessert are rice flour and coconut milk. Kokis is a staple and yummy sweet in Sri Lanka, that is most commonly prepared when celebrating Sinhalese New Year and many other festivities.
You can enjoy this delicious and crunchy Sri Lankan snack whenever you crave something simple yet satisfying.
Aggala (Sweet Rice Balls)
We cannot ignore this spicy sweet while discussing Sri Lankan desserts. Aggala is one of the famous traditional food that features a mild sweetness and peppery flavor.
It is prepared with roasted rice, jaggery (honey or sugar) syrup, coconuts, salt, and pepper. Cinnamon is also used to give it a local flavor. This yummy Sri Lankan dessert is usually served cold with evening tea.
It is one of the most delightful Sri Lankan sweets to have on the go. You can easily find it in local sweet shops.
Thala Guli (Sesame Balls)
Thala Guli or sesame balls are traditional desserts in Sri Lanka. These sweet balls are prepared with sesame seeds, coconut, and jaggery. They are very tasty, fragrant, and nutritious.
Thala Guli can be easily prepared at home. Roasted sesame seeds, jaggery, and roasted coconut are ground together in a mortar and pestle. The sesame oil which excretes from seeds during grinding helps in the preparation of the balls.
These sesame balls are comparatively one of the healthier Sri Lankan sweets. It is very popular among both adults and children.
You can also carry them in your bag to enjoy whenever you want. So consider packing some as you go out to explore all the famous landmarks in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan Sweets – Famous Traditional Drink
Kirala drink is a divine-tasting drink of Sri Lankan desserts. It has a hint of wood apple taste but is not as bitter. In Southern Sri Lanka, this sweet drink is served with coconut milk.
The tropical drink has a complex but heavenly taste, as the strong flavor of kirala is complimented by creamy coconut milk.
You can find refreshing kirala drinks at many local street vendors. One important catch about this drink is that it requires careful handling of the fruit. If someone is not an expert in making kirala juice, it can result in a sour, bitter, and awful drink.
So grab a cup as you go around sampling all the tasty Sri Lankan street foods on offer.
Discovering Traditional Sri Lankan Desserts
Sri Lankan sweets and desserts are known all around South Asia for their typical flavors. You will find a diverse range of them in the country. These desserts are typically served after main courses or with evening tea.
The most common ingredients of desserts in Sri Lanka are coconut milk, rice flour, jaggery, kithul treacle, and other local spices. Jaggery and treacle are also produced at the domestic level.
Desserts and sweet foods form a big part of Sri Lankan cuisine and also culture, as many of them are prepared for festive and even religious celebrations.