It’s a great time to pay the sandy beaches of Sri Lanka a visit. After all, you’re only a short flight away, you’re eligible for visa on arrival, and it’s very easy on the pocket.

Irrespective of where you go (Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna and Bentota are definitely our picks), one thing you are guaranteed is great food. If you’re a first-timer, use this handy list of dishes shared by Chef Sujith Ariyarathna of Nuga Gama restaurant at Cinnamon Grand Colombo. Vegetarians, don’t worry, there are some great options for you too:

Snake gourd salad – Snake gourd is commonly used to make curry in Sri Lanka, but an equally popular use is in salad. Given its medicinal and nutritional value, it’s best to keepit simple – with grated coconut, onion, chillies, lime and black pepper.

Ash Plantain Peel Melluma (salad) – A popular recipe from Jaffna cuisine, it involves the use of ash plantain (although normal green plantain can also be used). Simply chop it, mix with turmeric, onion and green chillies, and serve with rice.

Buffet at Nuga Gama, Colombo
Buffet at Nuga Gama, Colombo
Buffet at Nuga Gama, Colombo
Buffet at Nuga Gama, Colombo
Buffet at Nuga Gama, Colombo
Buffet at Nuga Gama, Colombo

Egg and String Hoppers – Also known as appa, they are considered iconic in Sri Lanka. A simple pancake batter, some coconut milk and a splash of toddy create the mixture that is tossed in round wok pans. A great way to have them is with a fried egg in the middle. A similar dish called string hoppers is made using a thicker rice flour batter, squeezed into thin noodles and steamed. They are often eaten for breakfast or dinner, teamed with curries.

Kekiri Curry – Kekiri cucumber is a type of local cooking melon that makes for a delicious curry. Cook it using a generous amount of coconut milk, onion and a hit of flavour courtesy mustard.

Mutton Red Curry Mixed with Bread Fruit – Bread fruit makes for a great substitute for potatoes. While most households prefer to make this dish with beef, another favourite is mutton. The curry base is a simple, spicy concoction of red chilli powder and coconut milk.