Milk rice with sambol

If you visit Sri Lanka one thing that you are sure to notice is that our cuisine consists of many different vegetables made into mind boggling dishes. We have rice for lunch and along with it we have at least 3 vegetable dishes. In Sri Lanka a single vegetable is cooked into various curries.

Let’s take cabbage for example. We cook it in many different ways as side dish for rice. We make

  1. CABBAGE MALLUNG (Mallung is a sort of half cooked salad that we make with almost all vegetables including leafy vegetables)
  2. CABBAGE MILK CURRY (We use coconut milk to make at least one milk curry as a side dish)
  3. CABBAGE STIR FRIED (This is spicy and oily)
  4. CABBAGE SALAD (This I think s made world over and I didn’t elaborate)


Sri Lankan cuisine is slightly like south Indian cuisine but has ideas from cuisines from all over the world. This cuisine consists of dishes that are mostly spicy; well, it has to be so, as we are one of the world's spice exporters.

Our staple food is rice so we make a variety of dishes using wheat. My favorite is 'milk rice'. A dish made by cooking wheat in lots and lots of coconut milk and then left to set. It will be like a white colored brownie. I eat it sometimes with milk, sugar and plantain,  other times with the special achchar or chili sambol made for it. (The picture above is 'milk rice' with its accompaniments)


One thing that I think is unique in Sri Lankan cuisine is that you get main dishes that are tasty and suits foreigners too. Sri Lankan savory, Sri Lankan sweets and Sri Lankan drinks are perfect to enjoy on your holiday to this lovely island.


The recipe provided below is not a specialty of Sri Lankan cuisine but it is something that you will love. This menu is made on a normal day not on special days.

Cook Time

Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: family of 5


  • 2 cups samba rice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  1. Wash rice 3 times. Put in a pot or rice cooker.
  2. Add the water, salt and oil. Cook till rice is cooked. And the water absorbed.
  3. If you want another variation of rice, then add 1/4 tsp. of turmeric powder, 2 cardamoms, 2 cloves and 1 inch stick of cinnamon. You can also use ghee instead of oil. This rice smells very nice and tastes completely different from plain rice even though only a couple of ingredients are added when preparing it. These ingredients should be added to the water in which the rice is cooked. This variation is called 'ghee rice'.
  4. Rice should always be stirred twice. Once, when the rice is half cooked and next soon as the rice is cooked completly. This keeps the grains from clumping together.






  • 500 g mutton, cut into medium sized pieces
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 4 green chilies
  • ½ capsicum
  • 10 curry leaves
  • ½ pandan leaf
  • 1 tsp. ginger garlic
  • 3 tbsp. coriander powder
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 5 inch Cinnamon stick
  • 3 cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tbsp. tamarind pulp
  • 3 cups water



  1. Keep a big pan on the stove on medium heat.
  2. Keep aside some onion, green chili, curry leaves, cardamom, ginger garlic, curry leaves, 1/2 tsp. of chili flakes and cinnamon and put the rest of the ingredients in a pan and mix it well.
  3. Take another pan (You are going to cook the beef in this) add some oil and fry the ingredients that you kept aside add the chili flakes last after the onions have turned golden brown.
  4. As soon as you add the chili flakes add the beef mixture.
  5. Cook till beef is tender or easy to cook in the pressure cooker as it's fast.
  6. Beef curry is ready.




You can make bread fruit too in this same way.


  • 250 g yam
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 green chilies
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 2 pieces of tomato
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. coriander
  • 1/8 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cups coconut thin milk
  • 1 cup coconut thick milk
  • salt to taste

For stir fry

  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 2 pods cardamom, pounded
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp onion sliced thinly
  • 1/2 green chili chopped
  • 2 curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ginger garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes


  1. Cut yam into chunks.
  2. Add some salt and water and boil the yam.
  3. To the boiled yam add thin milk and all the other ingredients except the thick milk. (green chili, onion, tomato, curry leaves, chili, cumin, coriander powder, ginger garlic and salt)
  4. Cook till the milk is halved.
  5. Then add the thick milk and taste. Add salt if necessary.
  6. As the thick milk starts to boil turn the stove off.
  7. Add oil to a small pan. Add all the stir fry ingredients except the ginger garlic and chili flakes.
  8. When the onion start turning brown add the ginger garlic and turn off the stove.
  9. Add the chili flakes quickly and pour this on the yam curry which is in the pot.

We should do the last step fast. If the ginger garlic gets burnt it will taste bitter and get stuck to the side of the pot.

The chili flakes tend to burn fast and taste bitter. So Its best if you add the chili flakes and immediatley pour this on the yam.





  • 250 g cabbage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 tsp. ginger garlic
  • 2 tsp. chili flakes
  • Dry Maldive fish pieces
  • salt to taste.
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. oil


  1. Slice the cabbage using a potato slicer to get finely sliced cabbage.
  2. Put all the ingredients together and mix well using your hand.
  3. Add oil in a wok. Add the cabbage and mix well.
  4. Cook on medium flame with the lid on.
  5. When the cabbage turns into what it looks like in the picture then turn it off. It takes around 7 to 10 minutes.
  6. Mix once in a while till the cabbage is cooked completely.