Eating & Drinking In Sinhala – Part 1: Food, Drinks, & Other General Words

eating & drinking in sinhala - lazy but smart sinhala-1

I’ve always enjoyed food.

Any childhood photo of chubby little Dilshan would prove that.

I’ve always enjoyed drinks too, for that matter, but obviously more in my adult life than the earlier years. Any photo of my chubby beer belly would prove that too.

I’ve been asked by many: “What’s your favorite type of food?”, the most recent occurrence of this question was from a distant aunt I ran into, while – I kid you not – waiting for the doors of a movie theater to open!

That’s not a question that can be answered, can it? I mean there’s so many to choose from!

(And besides, the damn movie is about to start!) >>>


So while I mumbled something to this aunt whose name I don’t even remember, I got the idea that night, to do a post for all of you on eating & drinking. Sinhala words and phrases for food & drinks, you know, that sort of thing.

And judging by the initial outline I drew I realized that there’s going to be so much to cover, that I’ll have to divide it into 3 parts.

So this here is Part 1…

But first let me try to tackle the “favorite type of food” question in case Annoying Aunt Anonymous is reading this.


And My Favorite Type Of Food Is…


Chinese food!

Yes, if someone forced me to pinpoint one type of cuisine, then I would have to choose Chinese food.

But like with most of my answers, it’s not that straightforward. Just ask any girl who has asked me the question “Dilshan, where do you see this relationship going?”.

So let me elaborate:

  • First of all, I’m not including good old fashioned day-to-day Sri Lankan food. I assumed you’d know that it was a given. I’d give up all other cuisines in a heartbeat and stick to Sri Lankan food for the rest of my life if it ever came down to it.
  • Secondly, when I say Chinese food, I’m talking about the Chinese food I get in Sri Lanka (and most recently I’ve been delighted to discover similar flavors in India too). So let’s call it South-Asian Chinese food.

What’s the difference, you ask?

Before I answer that, keep in mind, I’ve never been to China. I’m only comparing it to the Chinese food I ate in Europe.

Well, the Chinese restaurants over here in the sub-continent seem to have taken authentic recipes that have been handed down over centuries and done their own “baila” to it by adding a spicy spin to it. It really is better suited to my Sri Lankan palette.

And as you may or may not know, for most of us South Asians, a good meal is one that you feel twice…

(I’ll let you think about that one for a minute. I could make my dad’s joke of toilet paper catching fire but that might be getting too graphic for you decent and respectable people reading this).


But there’s a new contender in town…

Since recently though and owing to numerous trips I’ve made to India, I’ve been on a culinary adventure trying out different types of regional food.

Much like the commitment-phobe that I am (I mean, I used to be – stay tuned, I have an announcement to make soon) I’ve been “playing the field” and taking my time before settling on what I think might be my favorite regional cuisine. I’m still not going to commit to one, but let’s just say that if this were an episode from the reality TV show “The Bachelor”, then right about now, I’d be giving out roses to both Gujarati food and Punjabi food.


About This Blog Post


Here’s what we’re going to do.

In this post, we’re only going to look at general words related to eating and drinking. I’m not going to complicate it with anything more.

I’ve also thrown in some sample phrases using just one of the words I’ve introduced (and not all). I’ve done this one purpose so that it’ll force you to substitute the rest of the words on your own and forcing you to (dare I say it?) LEARN some Sinhala…

Speak to you again at the end of the post. I do have a bonus for you.


1. “Eating” & “Drinking”

Table 1.1: The Sinhala Words For “Eating” & “Drinking”

Eating / Eatka∙nȧ∙va      
Not eating / Don’t eatkan∙né   nǣ      
Drinking / Drinkbo∙nȧ∙va      
Not drinking / Don’t drinkbon∙né   nǣ      


Table 1.2: Sample Sinhala Phrases Using “Eating / Eat” As An Example

I am eating / I eatma∙mȧ   ka∙nȧ∙va      
I am not eating / I don’t eatma∙mȧ   kan∙né   nǣ      


2. “Food” & “Drinks”

Table 2.1: The Sinhala Words For “Food” & “Drinks”



Table 2.2: Sample Sinhala Phrases Using “Food” As An Example

I want foodma∙tȧ   kǣ∙mȧ   ō∙né      
I don’t want foodma∙tȧ   kǣ∙mȧ   ō∙né   nǣ1
I want more foodma∙tȧ   kǣ∙mȧ   tha∙wȧ   ō∙né      
I don’t want more foodma∙tȧ   kǣ∙mȧ   tha∙wȧ   ō∙né   nǣ1


1 You can replace ‘ō∙né nǣ’ with ‘é∙paa’


3. “Hungry” & “Thirsty”

Table 3.1: The Sinhala Words For “Hungry” & “Thirsty”

(am) Hungryba∙dȧ∙gi∙niyi      
(am) Not hungryba∙dȧ∙gi∙ni   nǣ      
(am) Thirstythi∙ba∙hayi      
(am) Not thirstythi∙ba∙ha   nǣ      


Table 3.2: Sample Sinhala Phrases Using “Food” As An Example

I am hungryma∙tȧ   ba∙dȧ∙gi∙niyi      
I am not hungryma∙tȧ   ba∙dȧ∙gi∙ni   nǣ      



If you’d like to receive a one-page summary (in PDF) of what you just saw in this post, let me know in a comment below.

Of course, you can leave all your questions, thoughts, love, (hate?!) as well.

(Hint: I respond quicker to people who inflate my ego)

Talk to you in a bit…

preview-eating & drinking in sinhala summary

Teaser Preview Of The One-Page Summary


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129 Responses to Eating & Drinking In Sinhala – Part 1: Food, Drinks, & Other General Words

  1. stuart November 16, 2015 at 11:48 #

    These blogs and booklets are a great help for me – slowly I am learning the language and getting to find out what my wife is shout at me about!!

  2. Sofie November 16, 2015 at 11:52 #

    Hi Dilshan,
    Perfect start for the Eating&Drinking trilogy. I’m in Sri Lanka now so very useful to know how to say “I don’t want more food” in a nice way when my mother-in-law is filling my plate over and over again, even if I doubt it works…;) Lovely Sri Lanka.
    I would of course love to get the free pdf from you:)
    Much Love,

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 11:54 #

      Thanks Sofie, I can TOTALLY relate to what you just said, haha!

      Where and where have you visited so far in Sri Lanka?

      Check your inbox in a minute for the PDF.

      • Rajendra November 16, 2015 at 12:07 #

        well done sir, thank you very much dear.

  3. dinesha November 16, 2015 at 12:37 #

    Thank U Dilshan for the lessons, I need all help with the sinhala language, cause next Winter I and my family will travel to Sri Lanka :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 12:42 #

      You’re welcome, Dinesha. Glad to hear about your upcoming trip too.

  4. Natalia November 16, 2015 at 12:51 #

    Hi Dilshan,
    very useful and very clear, as usual.
    Local people often say in English: “I am full”, when they are no longer hungry. Is there something similar in Sinhala?

    Thanks and good luck!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 13:02 #

      Great question, Natalia. You could say ‘ma∙gé ba∙dȧ pi∙ri∙la’ (“My stomach is full”).

  5. Laura November 16, 2015 at 13:02 #

    Hi Dilshan :)
    That was really interesting ☺️ I’d love to get the pdf!

    Btw, my boyfriend told me that “mata badaginiyi” literally means “my belly is on fire” ? Talking about feeling your meal twice, uh?
    Take care!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 13:07 #

      Hi Laura! Yes, he’s right:

      ba∙dȧ = “stomach”
      gi∙ni = another way of saying ‘gin∙nȧ’ or ‘gin∙dhȧ∙rȧ’ (both mean “fire”)
      ba∙dȧ∙gi∙niyi = (is/aùm/are) hungry

      Check your inbox :)

  6. Patty November 16, 2015 at 13:04 #

    That one is much more straight forward than the last one….. “Mata palathura kanna o-ne”.

    Many thanks

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 13:11 #

      Well done, Patty.

      ma∙tȧ pa∙la∙thu∙rȧ kan∙nȧ ō∙né = “I want to eat the fruit”
      ma∙tȧ pa∙la∙thu∙ru kan∙nȧ ō∙né = “I want to eat fruits”

      Makes sense, I hope?

  7. Brian Howell November 16, 2015 at 13:24 #

    Hi Dilshan and thank you for another informative and essential Sinhala blood post!

    • Brian Howell November 16, 2015 at 13:26 #

      Er…make that BLOG POST; my apologies, autocorrect on my phone decided the latter.

      • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 13:38 #

        Perfect! I literally “chuckled out loud” for your comment. You’re welcome, Brian

        • Brian Howell November 16, 2015 at 13:44 #

          Happy to be of service if for no other reason than to lighten the mood! Godak stutiyi.

  8. Christine November 16, 2015 at 13:26 #

    Hi Dilshan, I looooove food so I’m very happy about this new post and can’t wait to see the pdf ;-)
    I also just got a long-awaited big delivery of Sri Lankan spices and tea so will cook some spicy dishes soon :-)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 13:40 #

      Oooh, I remember the days when I would also get a package of Sri Lankan goodies sent by my mom. The excitement cannot be described in words. Enjoy. Also, sending you the PDF now.

      • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 13:42 #

        By the way, what’s the brand of tea you’ve got? I’m always interested in seeing which tea brands people consider their favorite.

  9. Wendy November 16, 2015 at 14:06 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    Thanks for the useful food words, looking forward to the next part. I must practice more. When I get on the bus in Colombo to come up to Kandy the fellow selling bottles of water calls out ‘Coola beema, coola beema, coola beema’, so now I know why.



    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 16, 2015 at 15:31 #

      Hi Wendy, good observation & recalling. But I didn’t fully understand. Is he trying to saw “Cool” drinks or “Cola” drinks? Any thoughts?

  10. Patrick November 16, 2015 at 16:01 #

    Thanks as always for the tips and the pdf! :)

  11. Ari November 16, 2015 at 16:09 #

    Subha Dawasak Dilshan,

    Am a huge fan of LBSS and your fun personality. (Enough of an ego boost?) Lanka is my favorite place on Earth and I’m so thankful to you and the LBSS lessons. I love being able to communicate with my Lankan friends in Sinhala!

    Bohoma sthuti!!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 06:59 #

      Hi Ari, good to hear from you again. Yes, ego has been successfully boosted. Talk soon.

  12. Elizabeth November 16, 2015 at 16:41 #

    Hello Dilshan

    Good to hear from you after a long time. The above blog is wonderful for beginners. Unfortunately I am not one of those. Only I find it hard to hold a conversation in Sinhala
    because, here, I do NOT have any Sri Lankans whom I could do so. However, many thanks for sharing.

    I do like East Indian dishes & eat at Indian Restaurants whenever I get a chance, but never
    Chinese food.

    Bye for now
    Elizabeth T.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:00 #

      Hi Elizabeth, yes I remember that you’re sorted in the vocabulary department. But at least now you know which cuisine I enjoy the most :)

  13. Jean-Jacques November 16, 2015 at 17:02 #

    Yes I like —– did you read my mail —– concerning meaning and use of the word “TAMAI” like in Sally Tamai —- I heard this word a lot but does not understand the sense of it. J’ai aussi de la famille a et pres de Paris, heureusement il n’etaient pas parmi les victimes.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:10 #

      Hi Jean-Jacques, happy to hear that your family is safe. About your question, let me answer it by first explaining a different word:

      ‘néméyi’ = “is not” / “am not” / “are not”

      For example: ‘mamå néméyi’ = “(It) is not me” (in case you’re being accused of eating the last piece of kiribath).

      ‘thamayi’ = the opposite of ‘néméyi’…

      ‘néméyi’ = “is” / “am” / “are”

      It is used when you need to be emphatic about something.

      Example: ‘mamå thamayi’ = “(It) is me”

      I’ve heard the same expression “salli thamayi’ but don’t yet know what it means. Will check with my “cool” friends and get back to you. I do know that ‘salli’ means “money”.

      Is that clear for you?

      • Jean-Jacques November 24, 2015 at 18:34 #

        Yes, ithanks —- You hear on Hiru TV when some poeple get some money they all shout “SALLY TAMAI” —– Terunada?

        • Dilshan Jayasinha November 25, 2015 at 05:58 #

          Haha, sorry, I don’t usually watch Hiru TV. Will look out for it and get back to you.

  14. Jose Mammen November 16, 2015 at 18:29 #

    Thank you Dilshan for taking the pains to teach us beginners!

  15. Paul Hatton November 16, 2015 at 19:00 #

    Hi Dilshan

    An absolutely brilliant idea, like you, if I could get real Sri Lankan food here in GB, then everything else could just go away (BTW have you tried Spice and Ice in Galle Road, next door to Arpico, fantastic :-) )

    Oh, and yes very please, I’d love the one page summary.

    Thank you so much for
    a) the blog
    b) being a wonderful person

    does that inflate the ego at all ;-)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:11 #

      Haha, yes my ego appreciates all that you said. Will check out spice & ice and let you know (I hadn’t heard of it before). Shall send you the PDF soon. Not at home right now. Instead at a cafe.

  16. Yuliia November 16, 2015 at 21:02 #

    Hello Dilshan!
    Please send me to my e-mail the one page summary of food related words that you share in this link.
    Many thanks.


    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:12 #

      You’re welcome. Shall send you the PDF when I get home soon.

  17. Janniek November 16, 2015 at 22:22 #

    Hi Dilshaaan !

    Another useful blog of ya, thank you so much!
    I’m super happy that I found this blog in 2014.
    I can speak and understand Sinhala pretty well now.
    My boyfriend lives in SL so he is kinda forcing me to learn Sinhala (even tho I love to learn it)
    By da way, I’m only 16 years old :) I think u might like to know that.
    Anyways keep it going and thanks for being the best Sinhala teacher ever !

    Much love from The Netherlands x

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:13 #

      Hi Janniek, glad to hear that your Sinhala is coming along well. And even gladder to hear the enthusiasm in your words. Keep it up. Say hi to your Sri Lankan boyfriend for me. Which city is he from?

  18. Helen November 16, 2015 at 23:20 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    I am progressing slowly but assuredly lol
    I am practicing in a chatroom now with simple phrases and words, is fun as no one else knows what I am saying only he who I post to :)
    There are times I can’t understand his lines as they are words I don’t know yet but was delighted with “mama oyaata adhareyi”

    I do find some minor differences with spelling but that does not take away from the understanding.

    I look forward to each of your additions.

    I went to a celebration of Diwali here in Auckland New Zealand and there were two places selling kothu roti. (my friend’s favourite) i watched mine being cooked :)

    Bohoma istuti

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:16 #

      In a chat room and already reached the “I love you” phase? Well done Helen! :)

      Oh, don’t mention koththu! I’ve been out of Sri Lanka for almost a month now and am dying to have one. Preferably late in the night from Pilawoos. I celebrated Diwali in India this time. Amazing!

  19. Tracey November 16, 2015 at 23:28 #

    great I love learning all these things now i will be able to add to my vocab. now just need someone to practise out loud on. at the moment im just writing the things i learn. I would love the PDF

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:28 #

      Don’t worry Tracey, you’ll get there soon. Shall send you the PDF when I get home soon.

  20. John November 17, 2015 at 00:06 #

    Love food, so love this lesson. Really important that you have the audio addition. You can learn vocab till the cows come home but if you’re not sure of pronunciation you’re building a house on sand. I love mixed metaphors too… Can you add audio to the rest of your GREAT stuff?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:30 #

      Agreed about the building a house on sand (not so bad at metaphors yourself). What did you mean by other stuff? I think I’ve added audio to almost everything, or have I missed out something?

  21. Viatcheslav November 17, 2015 at 00:17 #

    You are doing great job, Dilshan. Thank you very much indeed!

  22. Clarissa November 17, 2015 at 00:31 #

    Thanks as always Dilshan. I don’t know how many tides I am in a friends home and them or their mother insist I eat more and more food. I had to learn the word for enough and I can’t remember now! Sadly since I don’t have anyone to regularly speak Sinhala with I get a bit rusty! This is very close to what I was hoping you would post because you introduce some verbs and sentence structure things so it’s super helpful in taking the words I can seem to remember and making sentences to have a conversation (or my attempts at one). I would love the one page PDF to add to my notes. Thank you again for your helpful post and your great sense of humor. I’m with you on not being able to choose one type of food… pretty much anything Asian is my favorite but Spicy Tex Mex would be comfort food as well. I have some friends who have been teaching me how to cook Sri Lankan food via Skype and eating a spicy sri lankan curry is kinda like wearing my favorite tshirt.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:33 #

      I love the expression “is like wearing my favorite t-shirt” (I might steal it for s future post. You have been warned).

      The word for “enough” is ‘aethiyi’. But like you said it usually falls on deaf ears.

      Shall send you the PDF as soon as I get home. At a cafe now having breakfast and coffee.

  23. Ashwini November 17, 2015 at 01:57 #

    Thank you Dilshan. Now I can go “mata kaemae onea” whenever I’m hungry haha =D

  24. Niranjan November 17, 2015 at 02:45 #

    Dilshan you are doing a lot for lazy learners like me. Very simple and effective way of teaching.Very useful phrases on eating and drinking. I can start using them with my canteen man who can only speak in sinhala. Thanks

  25. Sarah November 17, 2015 at 03:51 #

    Hi Dilshan!
    Could you send me the pdf? I am staying in a small town close to Colombo and here I am the only foreigner among Sri Lankans so every bit of Sinhala is helpful for me. If you have the same thing in Tamil you´re welcome to send it as well ;-)
    Thanks a lot!
    your nangi

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:35 #

      Hello Nangi Sarah :) Shall send it to you when I’m back home. But no, I don’t have it in Tamil. Are there many Tamil speaking folks in your area? What’s the name of the little town?

  26. bob cook November 17, 2015 at 04:02 #

    Thanks again for all you efforts. I have noticed when sri Lanka’s say mata badagini, which admittedly is not very often, it’s like a performance. The vowels are extended like maaaaaaataaaaaaaa baaaaaadaaaaaagiiiiiiniiiiiii accompanied by much screwing of the face or if it is baaaaaaaadaaaaaaaginiiiiiiiiiii this is accompanied by much rubbing of the stomach.look forward to the one page summary. Best wishes, no .

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:36 #

      Bob, you nailed the impression of a hungry Sri Lankan perfectly! Kudos on your observation and ability to describe. If anyone else is reason this, know that I couldn’t have described it as good as Bob did! Well done sir! Shall send you the PDF when I’m back home.

  27. Nargis November 17, 2015 at 04:46 #

    great post indeed…i must say i got to use some of my sinhala knowledge wen i visited srilanka last may,and i owe that to u Dilshan…hope to get even better by my next visit:)
    i would lov to get the PDF…

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:38 #

      Thanks Nargis, but you should take most of the credit (this is not me being modest by the way, I don’t know how to be modest). What I mean is I know so many who learn from me but never put it to use. Too scared of making mistakes). So having the courage to practice it is entirely thanks to you. Keep it up. Shall send you the PDF soon.

  28. Steve Parenteau November 17, 2015 at 07:10 #


    I’m so pleased with your works; we have discussed asking to use some of your materials for our Sinhala classes at our school, where I have a one-hour lesson each week. Not enough to really galvanise my learning though, as we still speak English all day to one another!!

    I really like your style and approach to learning. Thanks so much for your shared learning.


    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 07:40 #

      Steve, where the hell are my royalties, man?!!! Just kidding. Honored that you guys are considering using my material. Email me sometime and tell me more about how your current lessons are going. I’d be interested to see how I can contribute.

  29. caroline November 17, 2015 at 08:16 #

    Dear sir,

    These blogs is helpful for me and then i ‘m have a little girl now so i ‘ll these blogs chat with my sweet baby .
    Thanks and regard caro.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 17, 2015 at 16:37 #

      Hi Caro, congratulations on the new little girl! What’s her name? Wishing you both the very best.

  30. Lakshman November 17, 2015 at 09:38 #

    well done and thanks,
    keep on your valuable help…