Traditional Jaffna cuisine has a distinct flavor that is different to the cuisine from the rest of the Sri Lanka and it reflects the textures and flavors of the South Indian cuisine. Though both these cuisines have a lot in similarity, Jaffna food has its own unique flavor profile to it and like with the rest of the island’s food, a delightful mix of spice and coconut plays an important part in the dishes that will leave you craving for more. Most of the food is prepared in clay pots over firewood, all which contributes towards the exceptional flavor of Jaffna cuisine, making for a truly gastronomical experience.

In Jaffna, it is believed that the six senses of taste- called ‘Arusuvai’ in Tamil- should be echoed in food to achieve a perfect balance of flavor. Here, we take a look at the some of the age-old delicacies of Jaffna that are an absolute treat for your taste buds:


  • Crab and Lamb Curry

When people think of Jaffna cuisine, the first dish that comes to mind is either the celebrated crab curry or the succulent lamb curry. Both these traditional curries hold true to the typical characteristics of Lankan cuisine, infused with heavy spices and bursting with flavor. With a gravy that’s rich with spices and coconut milk, the famous Lamb or Crab curry of Jaffna will leave you with an explosion of flavors once you start to dig in.

2- Rasam

A type of watery soup that has a number of medicinal values, Rasam is usually ladled generously as second servings after a main meal of rice and curry. The main ingredients are tamarind and black pepper but there are several variations to this like the addition of chicken broth, tomato and lentils. You can drink the Rasam as it is or choose to have it mixed with rice and this flavorful dish, with a hint of sourness from the tamarind, will leave you wanting more.

3- Pittu

A dinnertime specialty throughout the island, the Jaffna version comes with its own distinctive style. Pittu is made with either wheat flour or red-rice flour and mixed with scraped coconut and layered in between with even more scraped coconut. In Jaffna, Pittu is also sometimes layered with shrimp or fish and complemented with seafood gravies, turning it into a lip-smacking dish that is chock full of flavors and textures.

4- Modakam

A Jaffna spin on dumplings, this sweet dish is made with a hearty filling of sweet jaggery, green gram and coconut buried in dough that is formed into culets. These delicacies are then steamed and served even at breakfast sometimes, making it an absolute treat for those with a sugar tooth.

Other popular dishes are the Jaffna Aapam or hoppers with a generous dash or ghee, the flavorsome brinjal and drumstick curry and Kesari that is loaded with sugar, milk and semolina to satisfy those saccharine cravings.

Guests to The Thinnai can enjoy all the delicacies of the Jaffna cuisine right here at the hotel’s range of restaurants. So indulge in the strong flavors and let the spices awaken your senses. Eating is an experience in itself, and Jaffna cuisine adds a delectable twist to that practice.