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Jaffna Food

Traditional Jaffna cuisine has a distinct flavour that is different to the rest of the country and is closer to south Indian cuisine in taste. Thosai, idly, pittu, vades rice and curries including seafood and meats (mainly mutton) are cooked with local herbs and spices and are rich in their flavours. Kool seafood soup, bone Rasam, Mutton Poriyal, fiery Jaffna crab curry, Brinjal and Murunga (vegetable known as drum sticks), are all signature dishes in Jaffna. Rise early and head to a local eatery for breakfast served on a banana leaf with a hot cup of milk tea. Jaffna sweets are in plenty and the legendary Rio Ice crème is a must have. The young and the old throng to this ice crème parlour on Point Pedro road for their three scoops of ice crème topped with jelly and mangos.

Eateries, cafes & restaurants

Anuradhapura to Jaffna on A9 route:

  • The Resthouse Medawachchiya run by the Ceylon Hotels Corporation:  Next town to Anuradhapura travelling north, this is one of several hotels and rest houses across the island run by Ceylon Hotels Corporation.  Serves up traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, snacks, cool drinks, tea and coffee.  

Jaffna:

  • Mangos, 359/3 Temple Rd, Nallur: Located walking distance from the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil, this simple restaurant with an open sided pavilion, serves good vegetarian Jaffna cuisine and South Indian dishes. Open daily form 7:00 am -10:00 pm.

  • Rio Ice cream, 448A Point Pedro Rd (just minutes away from the Nallur Kovil): Serves a range of home made ice crèmes, Jaffna sweets, and some savoury pastries. Open daily from 9:00 am -10:00 pm.

  • Sri Saiee Bawan, 195 KKS Road:  Situated opposite the Jaffna market, this is a basic local eatery that serves up authentic vegetarian Jaffna cuisine on a banana leaf. Curries are dished out in buckets and served with a smile! A good breakfast stop, but get their early to avoid crowds.  Open from about 7:00 am onwards.  

  • Chelva Mahal, 1229 KKS Road, Poonari Marathadi: Is located about 15 minutes north of Jaffna town and en route when visiting the sites of Chunnakam and beyond.  Chelva Mahal serves good Jaffna crab curry as well as a range of other vegetarian and non-veg dishes; local version of Chinese food; snacks and cool drinks. Adjoining is their wedding reception hall which can get busy if there is a wedding taking place. Tel: 021 2219779.  

  • Jaffna Heritage Hotel, Temple Road, Nallur:  Close to the Nallur kovil, the restaurant at this hotel serves vegetarian Sri Lankan cuisine and western dishes.     

  • Hotel Subhas, 49 Victoria Rd:  Serves up vegetarian and non-veg Jaffna cuisine and dishes from South India (especially Kerala). Snacks and some western dishes are also available.

  • Fits – Pavillion, 40 Kandy Road, Chundikulli (on the A9 route entering Jaffna):  The restaurant at this guesthouse serves authentic vegetarian and non-veg Jaffna cuisine and western dishes.  

Fort Hammenheil, Karainagar:  Located about an hour west of Jaffna town close to Casuarina beach, Fort Hammenheil is a heritage site where the Sri Lankan Navy runs a restaurant.  Sri Lankan and western cuisine, snacks and cool drinks are served in an a/c restaurant looking out to sea.  This is the only lunch stop in the area.

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