iEat Raheema

Old style Colombo street food

Love at first smell

The go-to place for chicken biriyani. No, really, these guys make a mean biriyani that you will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in town. Raheema is one of the most beloved ‘saivar joints’ (as these roadside eateries are fondly known) in Colombo, it goes back over five decades, founded by one Shahid and named after his wife Raheema. The aroma of spicy goodness hits you even before you enter the premises proper, and it doesn’t take long for your mouth to start watering. One of the busier restaurants in town, Raheema is constantly bustling with activity, with waiting staff practically tripping over each in their haste to serve the rapidly rotating patrons.

Loved by all

Don’t let its hole-in-the-wall appearance façade fool you. Raheema is frequented by patrons from all backgrounds. ”It is especially popular among the kids from the nearby public schools, but you may end up share a table with an occasional cabinet minister.” A separate air-conditioned dining area is accessible through an almost invisible staircase on the upper floor of the building, if you feel like escaping the afternoon heat.

We get all sorts coming here, and there’s no telling where they’re from. This is a Muslim restaurant, but we get Muslims, Sinhalese, Tamils and everyone else coming here to try our biriyani, parata and kottu.
— Wijaya Raja

Local favourites

According to Wijaya Raja, not much has changed on the menu or, indeed, in the building itself. Apart from the wildly popular Raheema biriyani, this restaurant is also well known for its paraata and kottu dishes and, more importantly, its generous portions. Raja swears by the kottu here.

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