2 great Sri Lankan products

Things you learn sitting in a rest house after years of exile in places without Sri Lankan (not Indian) shops will trigger the oddest realisations. This one is about the taken for granted made in Sri Lanka stuff. Note these don’t include the wonders stuff that elderly relatives me (and spousal unit is picking up)

  1. Elephant House Ginger Beer (EGB)
  2. Hansa Coffee (well I didn’t know about this when I was in exile)

There are of course a few more bit its the weekend and I’m a slob. So I’ll hand the comment box over you: What are you favourite made-in-Sri Lanka edible? Tea will be permitted but will be considered a cop out.


64 thoughts on “2 great Sri Lankan products

  1. EGB- is overated. People have just become hand puppets in a media frenzy
    (so is pilawoos, and other such nonsense, give me a break whats so marvelous about cheese kottu? and ice milo? )there was a similar frenzy for bitter lemon “YUK”
    Hansa coffe? ermm havent heard abouth that one,

    However I do miss somethings worth mentioning in Sri Lanka, like “polos” (its not branded or marketed..and thats just fine) maybe the hot chocolate at cinnamon grand, its darn cheap too. ofcourse any Sri Lankan Tea is fabulous. especially the loolchondra.


  2. Elephant House Ginger Beer certainly stands tall as an amazingly refreshing beverage; sadly though it seems to lack the ‘tangy’ness’ I recollect from a few years back – perhaps due, I hear, to part of the ginger being imported – the ‘ayurvedic’ ginger of SL is particularly potent.

    Hansa certainly brings back an authentic cup of coffee, I think they have been doing so since 1997 – their underlying philosophy was that some of the original coffee cultivation must still exist – Sri Lanka was initially a coffee producer before a blight killed all of it off (Fortunately a Scotsman by the name of James Taylor had started experimenting with a new crop called tea and all the plantations were re cultivated)

    My list is in no particular order – also at http://taurus19lk.blogspot.com/2009/07/elephant-house-ginger-beer.html

    a) Green Cabin Cream buns

    b) Hoppers and Pork curry at Summer Gardens

    c) A Buriyani at Hotel De Buhary in Maradana

    d) A mutton Chinese roll from Nippon

    e) Lime juice and Coffee from Pilawoos

    f) A Cheese kotthu from the place NEXT to Pilawoos

    g) A kothu (regular) from Gihan’s in Delkande(?)

    h) A good malu pan

    i) A string hopper buriyani from Hotel De Majestic


  3. I would say buns (plain buns, sometimes called ‘tea buns’) from Majestic bakery.

    Resthouse breakfast: string hoppers, kiri hodi, fish curry, sambol and tea.

    Coconut Sambol with bread

    Boiled Manioc with coconut sambol


  4. Ra (the early morning stuff).
    Boiled Manioc and Katta Sambol (specially those in Ra-pola’s).

    I now just buy the ra and refrigerate it till the afternoon/evening .
    (I know its heresy, but tastes good).

    Early morning Pol Roti and Katta Sambol specially at the Lorry stops.
    (this was from 30 years ago when I was Medical Rep for some time).


  5. Elephant House Chicken Hot Dogs with that special sauce (sadly now doing fast disappearing act!). I swear I would eat five in one go!


  6. Kimbula banis!
    Kottu (the hijra kind, not pilla)
    Elephant house ice cream soda (although that was hard to find even when I was back home)


  7. Antoin: Not sure what rating system you are using to claim that EGB is over rated. It tops MY internal rating system. As far as I’m concerned that’s all that matters. 😈 Of course if its over rated by YOUR rating system that’s fine too. I’ll have the EGB you won’t be drinking πŸ˜€

    Technically Milo is not a Sri Lankan product. Its made by “NestlΓ© and originating from Australia“. Never been to pilawoos or thought much of cheese kottu but again each their own. I recommend Hansa coffee because I like it over most of the other locally made coffees (as well as stuff I have sampled abroad). I’m not a person to appreciate Tea but that has nothing to do with colonialism or its rating. Curious about loolchondra – a link perhaps? Also do you have a favourite brand/type of Sri Lankan (Ceylon) tea?

    Sigma: Thank you for that extensive list!!! πŸ˜€ I don’t have any issues with the tanginess of EGB but then which fanatic ever does πŸ˜‰ Cann’t remember when I was last at Green Cabin. Only to pick up a take out Vege Lamprise (which they do a v good job of)

    Jack: have to admit home page hopper etc tends to trounce outside stuff but rest houses do crank out good stuff. Specially string hoppers and kiri hodi. have a lot of happy memories of gorging that stuff at dinner at the Katharagama rest-house after the long grinding drive up and a bath πŸ˜€

    sbarrkum: Ra – well that’s an alcoholic option I’ve avoided πŸ™‚ I certainly won’t start a brawl between you 30years of pol roti sampling and my mother’s. Suffice it to say both must be great πŸ™‚

    DD: Think I must have had Elephant House Chicken Hot Dogs during my non veg childhood. That does bring back a few flickers of memory though.

    b: Yes! totally forgot about that. During my Summit Flat days the late afternoon visit by the baker bicycle was a major highlight – mostly for the Kimbula banis which was always warm when it got to us. Thank you for bringing back that happy memory πŸ˜€

    Kirigalpoththa: No disagreement there πŸ˜€ (drool)


  8. Ambepussa breakfast is superb and includes hoppers.

    I agree that EGB is overrated but I guess some people like it. There is something artificial about a bottle of fizzy drink from a bottle that disqualifies it from a list such as this.

    If you said green orange juice (made from the big green ones, I don’t know if they are really oranges ) of juice from Narang’s- that is something unique. At a push even Nelli crush (although oversweet for my taste now) would be more ‘authentic’.

    As for the EH hot dog, in my opinion they have lost it completely. its not even remotely like it used to be, even the consistency and and colour of the sauce have changed.


  9. And ditto for the Pilawoos food. Piloows food should only be eaten blind drunk or stoned.

    Bitter lemon is a bit better than EGB but not by much.


  10. antoin: cool πŸ™‚

    Jack: fizzy drink from a bottle ???!!! o come on. Anything edible made in Sri Lanka qualifies πŸ˜€ Anyway, I don’t just like EGB I love it πŸ˜€ Your descriptions of Pilawoos sounds quite familiar πŸ˜€


  11. My favourite Sri Lankan product, mathata thitha and all, is Rockland Red Rum. My second is Rockland White Rum.

    The former is better than Captain Morgan; the latter beats Bacardi.


    1. I second that…Rockland white Rum is the best…

      you should try the umbaralla drink at nuga gama at cinnamon Grand….also the lime juice….heavenly !!!


  12. Just to point out something – Loolecondera is the name of the estate on which tea was commercially grown for the first time in Sri Lanka – 1867. The branding of ‘single origin’ teas was refined to include the ‘Garden’ names too as a USP. From what I’ve seen, generally most Sri Lankans prefer a High Grown tea


    1. I thought it was the strong low-grown’s that SL liked, with lots of milk and sugar?

      Or maybe low-grown manufacture of high-grown estates?


      1. foodie: Interesting foray into Rum which I tend to confuse with water used t make coke taste better. πŸ˜‰ Didn’t realise Sri Lanka had its own brand of rum. Time the Ministry of Rum took notice (its not fake)

        Jack & Sigma: Why do I think that tea is something Sri Lankans use to flavour their mix of full cream milk, condensed milk and sugar? πŸ˜‰ What does a coffee drinking EGBer like me know….


      2. I think you might have hit it right Jack Point. Low country teas are generally not as strong as high country teas. What most Sri Lankan’s drink is the dust off the factory floor. And the good stuff just isn’t available on the local market. Even the so called “pure ceylon tea” at the supermarket is supposed to be blended, and adding insult to injury, blended with foreign teas. At least, the international brands like Lipton, etc. No idea about the local Dilmah’s and Heladiv’s. Even going from mid country to up country the pure stuff is quite a jump in strength.


      3. Sadly yes, the bulk of the tea available in the local market tends to be secondary qualities and not the best tea that SL has to offer. That said, brands such as Zesta, Bogawantalawa do offer a better than average cuppa. Pure Ceylon Tea usually means that though it probably is a blend of teas from different estates – as opposed to a ‘single garden’ tea. Mlesna offers a wider range but their focus is more on the packaging than the ones mentioned earlier. Dilmah of course remains SL’s only truly international brand though others such as Akbar, Heladiva, Tea Tang, Olinda certainly do their bit to keep the flag a fluttering. That good cup of ‘kahata’ comes from smaller leaf sizes – the BOP, the BOPF and Dusts, which are generally produced in greater volume by the “High Grown” rotovane style of processing.


    1. yes !!! how do they manage to do it ? I always thought I was racialy discriminated or did not pronounce if properly when they said they did not have it !!! I am talking bitter lemon , ofcource


  13. oooh EH hot dogs at the fountain cafe! brings back so many memories… they don’t make it like they used to anymore… 😦


  14. Whacko: I still don’t get this bitter lemon thing. What’s wrong with lemonade? 😐 Ice Milo is nice but its a pain to make (or used to be) with all those particles floating around

    Chavie: I cann’t remember the fountain cafe hot dogs but I do remember their ice cream with the chocolate sauce and nuts. πŸ˜›

    Pericles: You bring up a good point – where can you get the really good quality Sri Lankan tea in Sri Lanka without climbing mountains or having relatives in the Tea biz? (I’m still sticking to coffee)


    1. Cerno, the difference between bitter lemon and lemonade is like the diffrence between hoppers and pancakes. Honestly !!!!! drink lemonade !!!!!!!!!


  15. 1. arrack
    2. highland chocolate milk
    3. kotmale chocolate milk
    4. jumbo jolly (orange flavor)
    5. hijra chicken and cheese kottu
    6. fish patties
    7. cutlets
    8. seeni sambol buns
    9. highland yogurt milk
    10. isso vadai



  16. oh!! the horror !!!! A curse on you for reminding me all the I miss !!.
    Hoppers of course . Egg hoppers and seeni sambal.
    Then there is the fried brinjal curry thing that mi mum makes.

    Cerno , this is torture !! the purest and the simplest method.
    There should be law against this. !!!!


  17. Milk hoppers (love the ones at chariot)
    Cuttlefish kottu from the naana’s joint that used to be at galleface.


  18. T: That’s an entire made in Sri Lanka party package!!!

    anna: o come one! you are made out strong stuff πŸ˜€

    gutterflower: Tasty’s hopper are yum too πŸ˜€


  19. Gosh Cerno, apologies as I only just stumbled across this excellent post.

    Faves for me are:

    Elephant House Cream Soda
    A good mutton roll
    White string hoppers in extremely, way too bad for me, large quantities.


    1. Was worth the wait πŸ™‚ Thank you for the suggestions.

      As the Google certified world authority on Elephant House Cream Soda (EHCS) I have no argument with the pick. But white strings?? just like that? no kiri hodi? 😯

      Curious if there’s a specific brand of arrack you like. I never did figure out coastal Sri Lankan coconut tea….


      1. Cerno – I’d definitley have some hodi, but I usually finish off a string hopper meal with a couple of plain ones, just love them. As for the arrack, well I’m not enough of a connoiseur to be able to taste the difference between brands, I just like the general taste of it!


  20. How the hell did I miss this?

    Anyway, I skipped all the comments after reading a couple cos I couldn’t stop my mouth watering. LOL.

    OK, these days, I’ll have pretty much anything Sri Lankan, as I get only a few varieties since I’m far away from home. But if I think back, even when I was in SL there are a few stuff that I could eat pretty much everyday and still not get bored with it.

    1. Kadey Paan with Pol Sambol.

    2. Avacado Juice. THE drink.

    3. Wild Boar. Fried.

    4. String Hoppers with Chicken/Prawn curry + Pol Sambol (a must).

    5. Papadam.

    6. Thambili.

    7. Accharu.

    8. Boiled Weralu, then mixed with chilli powder, a bit of sugar, salt and vinegar.

    9. Kiribath with Lunu Miris.

    10. Milk Short Cookies (that biscuit comes in a blue package) dipped in milk tea.

    And clearly I don’t know how to count to two. Meh.


  21. Lion lager
    Mlesna tea
    Maliban biscuits
    Kandos chocolates with cashew
    Harischandra coffee

    No point mumbling about lunu miris and the like, learn how to cook. Not many Sri Lankan men are able to boil an egg.


  22. Let me put it this way. If I were to wake up in Colombo tomorrow morning, I wish my day would include:
    1. Kiribath and lunumiris, or kirimaalu, pol sambol and achchu paan for breakfast from Matara Kadey in Bamba (Next to HFC)
    2. Have a cool iced coffee from Green Cabin around 10’ish, probably with a maalu paan
    3. DBU Thunmulla Lamprise for lunch
    4. Lemon Puff and a nice plain tea, late afternoon
    5. Old Reserve and Wild Elephant with devilled pork at sunset…
    and my day would be just purrrrfect!


  23. Definitely string hopper, kiri hodi etc. for breakfast.

    Lapmrais, but you can make them anywhere in the world.

    Sri Lankan rum is better than European or American mass market crap (Captain Morgan, Baccrdi) but it is nothing like as good as Caribbean,

    I agree with those saying EGB is not what it was. I suspect that they are buying ginger essence rather than making it from scratch as they used to. All Elephant House products have gone down hill (sausages in particular).


    1. Interesting rum take there πŸ™‚ I’m no expert on rum but I’ll take your word on it. I have noticed a distinct difference between canned EGB and the bottled one. Not sure if its a perceptual thing. But if they are using diluted ingredients I suppose it is a down hill run…


  24. Does that mean my take is a bit rum?

    I recently had some real Caribbean stuff thanks to a Barbadian who lives here, and it was definitely better.

    I am going to get my family to sit down and do a blind tasting of bottled vs canned ginger beer! I can well believe that canning impairs the flavour, as it does with beer.

    I just noticed a mention of cream soda above. Has anyone tried cream soda anywhere else in the world? How does it compare?


  25. No, Chamira, I am saying that Caribbean rum is generally better than Sri Lankan.

    Also, re your comment about Sri Lankan men not being able to cook: I taught my wife to cook! That said I did not grow up in this country, so I am not typical.

    Cerno, I was just joking. I cannot resist a pun.

    There are two sad things: one is that the quality of many Sri Lankan products has fallen (Ginger Beer, Elephant House sausages, Lion Lager etc.) and a lot of the best stuff growth here (tea, organic fruit and veg) gets exported and is difficult to buy here.


  26. chamira I hope you aren’t going to start a rum brawl πŸ˜€ Though I’m curious how it pans out.

    Graeme πŸ˜† A good pun at that πŸ™‚ I’m a bit of a flickering low watt bulb when it comes to pun detection 😦 As for the declining quality of Ginger Beer – I’m very much in ostrich mode about out. but a recent sip of the stuff in a can was traumatically disappointing.


  27. I am not a Sl-an but have a list of stuff that I have grown fond of, living there for the short epriod that I did!

    Wheat string hoppers

    All the variuos sambols-sini, masi,thoplan,gotukola…you name it

    Kithul pani with thick curd

    beef kottu roti

    devilled beef/chicken

    All the various “shorteats”

    Cheesecake at the cinnamon grand cafe

    ala thel dhala…which I can cook now…yipee

    and loads more….sigh


  28. pol roti kata sambol, manioc and sambol, accharu, kotthu rotti, elephant house range of drinks, lamprais, chinese roll πŸ™‚ ..
    list would be endless. thank lord i am living here in col…


  29. Malu Paan from Salgado Bakery was a thing we looked forward when passing kaluthara about 30 years back, though standards have gone down now. EGB is the favourite at meal time. Portello stands the best when you are really tired after being in the sun. Agree all elephant house products have gone down in quality. I was surprised some of the Ice Cream is imported from Thailand. It is pure marketing in cashing on a great brand name like ELEPHANT HOUSE,


  30. Oh I forgot, Visit TEA CUP rest, when you are going towards NuwaraELiya via watawala. Wow, there Patties and Tea is great,not to mention Chocolote Cake. Tea is real Sri Lankan type not the watery type tea you get even in 5 star hotel. Strong & with creamy Milk


  31. Santhoshi: A truly mouth watering choice indeed πŸ˜€

    Rohantha: Will look those places up if I ever do head for the hills which these days are very unlikely 😦 Sounds like the office tea which cuts through the lunch time rice and curry and dozyness it brings.


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