Famous recipes from Sri Lanka

Coconut flavor flatbread (Pol roti)

Coconut roti is a traditional breakfast of Sri Lanka which can be served with spicy coconut salad (pol sambal) or highly picante salad (lunu miris) and it’s very quick and easy to cook.
Preparation time: 15 Minutes
Cooking time: 10 Minutes


• Whole grain wheat flour 200g
• Scraped coconut 100g
• Salt to taste
• Onion 1 medium
• Curry leaves
• Water
• Butter 2 tsp

1. Add grated coconut and salt to the wheat flour and mix well.
2. Then add the onions, curry leaves, and water. Knead it well.
3. Optional: add 2 tbsp of butter to roti dough, and subsequently reduce the
    amount of water used.
4. Knead into small balls and flatter into circular shape.
5. Heat a saucepan or roti pan, and place the roti on it.
6. Cook under medium flame until both sides are cooked.

Lentil curry (Parippu)

This is a spicy dish that goes well with rice.
Prep Time: 10 min                                    Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 25 min                                    Servings: 4 persons


 1 cup of red lentils
 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
 1 tsp of curry powder
 1 tsp of chile powder
 1 green chile (picante pepper) chopped
 1 onion chopped
 1 cup of water
 3-4 curry leaves
 1 cup of coconut cream
 2 tbsp of coconut oil
 1/2 tsp of mustard seed
 2 dried chilies, broken into pieces
 2 cloves of garlic, minced
 Salt to taste

 Wash and soak the red lentils in water for 5 minutes, keep aside.
 Keep the saucepan on fire with coconut oil.
 Add mustard seeds after oil is hot add onions, aromatic rampe (Pandanus
    amaryllifolius) and curry leaves.
 Add dried chilies and temper the mixture.
 Remove mixture from the pot.
 Add the green chilies, chopped garlic and washed red lentils.
 Add chile powder, turmeric powder, curry powder and salt to your taste.
 Add water as needed.
 Cook for 10 minutes on low flame.
 Add dissolved coconut cream powder and stir.
 Let it simmer for 2 minutes and then add the tempered mixture.
 Serve hot with rice or bread.


Jack fruit curry (Polos ambul)

Jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a seasonal fruit, found in South and South East Asia. Tender jack fruit is known as “polos” in Sinhala. This is a dish slightly
dark and spicy dish which tastes great even with simple boiled white rice.

Prep Time: 15 minutes                                         Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes                                         Serving Size: 2-3


 1-tender jack fruit
 150 ml – coconut cream
 ½ tsp – turmeric powder
 1 ½ tsp – chile powder 
 1 tsp – roasted curry powder
 1/2 tsp – black pepper
 1/4 tsp – mustard seeds
 1g – ginger
 1g – garlic
 2 medium sized sliced onions
 2 sliced green chilies (picante peppers)
 curry leaves – 4 sprigs
 salt to taste
 3 pieces- goraka (Garciniaquaesita pierrie)

 Soak the goraka in warm water for 20 minutes and make a thick paste.


1. Clean and cut the tender jack fruit into 7 to 8cm long pieces like rectangle.
2. Add enough water with little salt and pressure cooker the jack fruit up to 2
3.Dry roast the fresh coconut, cumin seeds and fennel seeds until golden brown
and grind it into powder. Set aside.
4. Soak the goraka in warm water for 20 minutes and make a thick paste.
5. Grind the ginger, garlic and pepper into a paste. Set aside.
6. Heat the oil in a wok and add mustard seeds to splutter.
7. Add sliced onion and sauté until translucent.
8. Add curry leaves, sliced green chilies along with ground ginger, garlic and
pepper paste. Sauté for 1 minute.
9. Add turmeric, chilies, and roasted curry powders.
10. Add boiled jack fruit (with water) and mix with the spices along with goraka
11. Adjust the salt.
12. Cook for 5 minutes.
13. Add coconut cream, stir and cook on a low flame for 15-20 minutes.

14. Lastly add roasted coconut mixture and stir gently.
15. Serve hot with white or yellow rice.

Finger millet sweet (Halapa)

Halapa is a traditional Sri Lankan sweet which is served at tea time. The main
ingredient is finger millet/kurakkan (Eleusine coracana) flour.
Preparation Time: 45 Minutes                           Cooking time: 30 Minutes 

 250g of rice flour
 250g of kurakkan flour (finger millet)
 1 cup of grated coconut
 ¼ cup of honey (instead use 200g sugar as a substitute)
 Salt to taste

 Heat a pan and add grated coconut. Make it just warm enough and add honey or sugar and mix well. Remove from heat once the mix is brown in color. Keep aside.
 Mix rice and finger millet flour together in a bowl.
 Use some warm water for it.
 Make dough. Add salt to taste.
 Spread kenda (Macaranga peltata) or banana leaves on a table. (if banana leaves are used, heat it over a flame few minutes to reduce its moisture and cut to pieces of 20cm)
 Now take a small quantity of the dough, make it as a ball and spread over the leaf making a thin round shape pastry.
 Add some sugar/coconut mixture on it and spread well.
 Then fold it half and press the dough.
 Continue the same process with remaining dough.
 Steam for about 15-20 minutes or until cooked.
 Serve and enjoy.

Sour fish curry (Malu ambulthiyal)

Ambulthiyal in Sinhala means a sour curry. It’s cooked using a spice blend that
turns the outer part of the fish black.
Preparation time: 15 Minutes               Cooking time: 30 Minutes

• 250 grams of tuna, for example, kelewalla (Thunnus albacares – yellowfin tuna), balaya (Katsuwonus pelamis – skipjack tuna) and talapath (Istiophorus platypterus – Indo-Pacific sailfish).
• ½ tsp of salt
• ¼ tsp of turmeric powder
• 1 tsp of goraka paste (Garcinia gummi-gutta)
• 1 tsp of black pepper
• 1/2 tsp of chile powder
• 1 sprig of curry leaves (murraya koenigii)
• 3 tsp of coconut oil

1. Wash tuna and drain the water.
2. Add salt, turmeric powder and rinse.
3. Place the tuna into the pot and add turmeric, salt, chile powder and curry
4. Coat tuna with mixture, by hand.
5. Add coconut oil.
6. Place banana leaf (if possible) into pot and add more coconut oil.
7. Place lid on and cook on low fire for 30 minutes without adding water.
8. It won’t go bad for an entire week.

Vegetarian koththu roti

Kottu Roti is the Sri Lankan street food favored by locals and visitors alike. It’s a Sri Lankan iconic food that hails from Batticaloa, Eastern Sri Lanka.

Prep Time: 30 min                                   Cooking Time: 15 min
Total Time: 45 min                                   Serving: 2 people

 3 parathas (pancake like flat bread) shredded into thin strips
 2 tsp coconut oil
 ½ tsp curry powder
 ½ tsp chili powder
 tsp tomato puree
 tsp dark soy sauce
 Salt to taste
 1 carrot julienned i.e. cut into thin long strips
 Handful of leeks cut into inch 2-3cm pieces
Coarsely grind below ingredients using food processor or chopper.
 1 medium size onions
 2 garlic cloves
 1-2 green chilies (picante peppers)
 1 large tomato
 Few curry leaves

1. Either make or buy flat bread shred i.e. parathas, cut them into quarter inch
size pieces, add them into a food processor and for 2 seconds. Time will vary
depending on power and size of your processor. All we need is thinly shredded
parathas. Alternatively, you can cut them into thin strips. In this recipe I have cut into thin strips using knife and a chopping board.
2. Heat oil in a large pan, add coarsely ground mixture and stir fry till they are
aromatic and golden brown.
3. Add curry powder, chili powder, tomato puree and soy sauce, mix well to
create a thick sauce. Add salt to taste.
4. Add shredded parathas, mix well till they are coated with spices. Lower the
heat and add carrot. Cook stirring for 1 or 2 minutes.
5. Turn off heat add leeks and mix well. The longer you keep this meal the better it tastes, as the spices blends well and paratha absorbs their flavors.

Haal pittu / Kurakkan pittu

The two most commonly found varieties in Sri Lanka are haal pittu and kurakkan pittu. Haal pittu – to be more specific, but often referred to simply as pittu – is a blend of red or white rice flour and grated coconut. These are eaten mostly as a staple for breakfast and sometimes also for dinner.
Some choose to eat these varieties of pittu accompanied by thick coconut milk
and lunu miris (highly picant hot pepper salad). Others might choose seeni sambal (a mildly picant salad), a spicy kiri hodhi (coconut cream sauce).
Prep Time: 20 mins                        Cook Time: 10 mins.
Total Time: 30 mins.                       Cuisine: Sri Lankan
Servings: 2 people

 2 cups rice flour (red or white) OR
 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup kurakkan flour
 2 cups shredded coconut (or 1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut soaked in 3/4 cup of water)
 Salt to taste

1. Steam the flour
2. Check to see if the flour has clumped together
3. Next, mix all ingredients in a large bowl and roll with the thumb to make small granules adding water little by little to achieve the same consistency.
4. Take care not to make it too wet. If so, add a little bit of rice flour.
5. Fill the pipe of the pittu maker and steam till the steam comes out of the lid for 3-5 minutes.
6. Cut the mold into big pieces and serve hot with a side dish described above.

Herbal soup (Gotu kola kanda)

This creamy gotu kola kanda (porridge) is a very nutritious health food. It is
particularly good for those with arthritis. Kola Kanda is delicious served steaming hot with a piece of palm candy. You can use any edible green herb for this recipe, such as polpala or mountain knotgrass (Aerva lantana) and maha hathawariya or sickle thorn (Asparagus falcatus).

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes                             Cooking Time: 07 Minutes

 Gotu Kola (Juice) – 100 ml
 Red or brown rice – 100g
 Fresh scraped coconut
 Coconut cream – 50ml
 3 Pieces of palm candy
 Salt to taste

1. Wash gotu kola well and blend with little water
2. Strain the juice and keep aside.
3. Rinse the rice well.
4. Add 1 ½ cup of water and cook in a pressure cooker for up to 4 whistles.
5. Add coconut cream and cook for another 5 minutes uncovered.
6. Add gotu kola juice stir well and cook for another 02 minutes.
7. Season with salt.
8. Serve this hot kola kanda with palm candy.

Coconut flavored rice (Kiribath)

Kiribath is a classic Sri Lankan dish shaped as a cake, made of rice and coconut cream. It is a celebratory treat for special occasions as well as a traditional breakfast.

Preparation Time: 20 mins                               Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 mins                                           Cuisine: Asian, Sri Lankan

Servings: 2 persons

• 500 g of white short grain rice (ideally Sri Lankan kekulu rice variety)
• 1 1/2 cups of thick coconut cream
• 2 1/2 cups of water
• Salt to taste

1. First wash the rice and put into a large saucepan.
2. Place in the hearth with water and salt.
3. Boil it uncovered, in medium heat.
4. Then reduce heat, cover it with a lid to simmer in medium or low heat until
water is absorbed and rice is tendered. (for 20 minutes)
5. Add coconut cream and stir well until it is fully mixed.
6. Allow it to simmer on low heat until rice absorbs all the coconut cream. (for 10 minutes)
7. Remove from the hearth and transfer the mixture to a large shallow dish when it is hot and flatten with a back of a flat spoon or spatula or parchment paper.
8. Draw lines to cut it from the top surface to depth in the shape of diamond or
square, but don’t separate the pieces.
9. Let it become cool for about 10 minutes and separate the pieces cutting on the lines marked earlier.
10. Serve with lunu miris (highly picante salad).

• The proportions of coconut and water are approximate, and depends on the
type of rice.
• If the surface of the rice dries too quickly, apply a little coconut cream to re
hydrate it.


Spicy pickle (Achcharu)

The Sri Lankan “Achcharu” (pickle) is a simple to use as relish or side dish. You can try with different vegetables.
Prep Time: 20 min            Keeping Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days            Servings: 2 people

Pickling liquid:
 1/2 cup of vinegar
 1 tsp of grated fresh ginger
 1 tsp of grated fresh garlic
 1/2 of tsp red chili powder
 1/2 of tsp salt
 1 tsp of black mustard seeds (ground in food processor with some the vinegar)

 4-5 green chilies (picante peppers) whole with a slit down the middle
 1 large carrot sliced into small pieces
 4-5 red onions
 3-4 green beans into small pieces
 Optional Vegetables: Cauliflower cut into florets, green papaya

 Grind black mustard seeds with some of the vinegar and place in pot with all the other pickling liquid ingredients.
 Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Taste the pickling liquid as the flavor will need to suit your taste since it will flavor all the vegetables.
 Pour over prepared vegetables and allow to sit until liquid cools. (we can make this without boiling. Then you need to keep “achcharu” one or two days before use.)

 Once at room temperature, put pickled vegetables and enough pickling juice to cover the vegetables into clean dry bottles and place in fridge overnight before use.
 Keeps for a few months in fridge. Eat with rice and curry meals. Enjoy

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