Street food scene in Colombo is evolving, and it's happening at a rapid pace. You can notice this on the stretch of Marine Drive where various food trucks with burgers, shawarmas, kottu, crepes and hot dogs popping up. Plus, there’s a huge trend in street food festivals happening in Colombo, too.
But it's hard to forget the good ol’ street foods, the simple ones filled with flavour that did a fine job satisfying our snack needs while wandering around the city every now and then. So, let’s take a look at sinfully good street foods in CMB – what they are and where to find them.
Comes in various shapes and sizes, this is a popular staple when it comes to street food in Colombo. Galle Face Green and isso wadey go hand in hand. Anyone who steps into Galle Face stretch in the evening can’t escape that delicious smell of wadey carts. And this is not just limited to that – deep fried crabs, kunisso wadey, and roti too.
This sugar-based delicacy usually finds you out of nowhere. Meaning, you randomly find this version of candy floss carried around by a man ringing a bell. Unlike candy floss on a stick, this comes sandwiched between edible wafers, takes pink/yellow colour and would give you the sugar rush just by looking at it. They carry a straw-like, a bit harder texture than your typical candy floss but essentially melt in your mouth with a blast of sugar.
Achcharu is a savoury delight that you just can't say no to. Even if you fear for gastritis after eating them, it won't stop you from reaching into that small polythene bag, taking them out and possibly even licking the essence of it off your fingers. Also, you can poke a hole in the bag and suck the leftover juice!
This tangy, savoury, spicy kick is made from fruits that can be pickled with chilli powder, salt, and pepper whatnot. Mangoes, pineapple, guava, jambu, amberella, veralu are some of the common types of achcharu that you can come across. Achcharu carts are quite random too – mostly found near schools. Luckily, we YAMUites get this regularly, thanks to the achcharu uncle that comes near our office almost every day.
Indi Samarajiva | Flicker https://www.flickr.com/photos/indi/8003041817
These bottles of colourful, saccharine drink can be spotted from a mile away. Housing the bits and pieces of fruit, kasa kasa, and sugar syrup, it is a refreshing drink, especially on a hot day in Colombo (which is basically every day).
Based on the ingredients they use in the making, they’ve got different names. Cheese Kottu for a cheesy version, Masala Kotti to kick you hard with hot spices, Palandi Kottu for the people who like it creamy, and of course, the dolphin kottu – which is not made from dolphins. You can read a comprehensive analysis on this on our Ultimate Kottu Showdown 2.0.
All these can be found at almost any Pilawoos in town (we have a gazillion of them), and places like Hotel De Plaza. This flavourful experience can be further improved by adding some much loved Iced Milo on the side.
Hoppers & Parata
Hoppers – katta sambol, Parata – curry are the Sri Lankan equivalent of the Mac and Cheese. They are much like kottu – quite common in CMB streets and you can always enjoy them with a cup of plain/milk tea. If you're looking for something other than your average chicken or fish curry, you can always drop by Hulfsdorp Street. They’ve got some weirdly delicious curries, we must say – lamb brains for an example.
Ah! Choon paan! That ever so well-known melody, which makes you ready your wallet, open your doors and run out to grab some short-eats that come from a tuk-like vehicle. They carry every basic short-eat on the book – jam paan, rolls, patties, ada, and maalu paan.
When you are in a rush, but need something to munch on, Murukku to the rescue! Crunchy to the bite, comes in all shapes, sizes and flavours (sweet and savoury) this stuff will never fail you in a podi badaginna situation. We have dedicated gram stores where you can get these in the massive 1kg packet from, but even the kadey next door is sure to have them.
BBQ is another street side food that can fill you up and make you want more at the same time. A quick sit down to enjoy some excellent BBQed protein is always guaranteed to leave with a satisfactory smile. For this, we can give a nod to Nana’s for basic chicken, and seafood BBQ and the ever so buzzing Hulfsdorp Street for more varieties of them.
We, Sri Lankans, like to please our taste buds in boisterous ways. It is pretty much carved into our DNA at this point. Let's hope that the flavours and the existence of these classic street foods won't die out in the years to come!