Recipes from Sri Lanka

Recipes from Sri Lanka


From ancient times other cultures have been in contact with Sri Lanka to obtain the spices that grow there. The best cinnamon, cloves and other spices are indigenous to Sri Lanka. People arrived to trade in spices and also left some of their culinary practices as well. Sri Lankan cooking has evolved by combining culinary practices of many of these cultures. The most noticeable impacts have been the Portuguese, Dutch, Moor and Malay influences. In this small booklet the most popular dishes have been described. Some notes on substituting ingredients, cooking methods and addresses of where to purchase ingredients are given below. Sri Lanka being a tropical country has to beware of food spoiling fast. Hence most foods are cooked in liquids which is a fast method of ensuring that all ingredients are cooked thoroughly. No dish described here takes more than 30 minutes to prepare, with average times ranging from 15-20 minutes.

Complied by
Chandra & Sereno Barr-Kumarakulasinghe
700, E. Loop Road, #H2122
Stony Brook, NY11790

Curry Powder

Sri Lankans use two different curry powders. One is referred to as plain 
curry powder and very similar to the Indian yellow curry powder obtainable 
from a Oriental or Indian grocery store. The other curry powder is referred to 
as black (black-dark brown in color) or roasted curry powder and is used for 
The yellow curry powder can be used as the base to make the black 
curry powder. This method is given in the beginning of the booklet.

Coconut Milk

Coconut milk ( the milk obtained from squeezing the meat of the 
coconut)  is a central to Sri Lankan cooking. However as milk is made every 
day, this process of obtaining the milk is quite tedious.  Nestle have been 
manufacturing powdered coconut milk in Sri Lanka for over a decade and as 
such has made it much easier to cook Sri Lankan style.
Dairy milk can be substituted at times. However occasions where lime 
or lemon juice is used there is a good possibility of dairy milk curdling.

Roasted Curry Powder

Start with 100 gms raw yellow curry powder. Add about a 1 tablespoon 
fennel seed, 1 tablespoon garlic powder , 2 pieces lemon grass ,  2 cloves, 3 
cardamoms , 2 pieces cinnamon and 1 tablespoon mustard seed and roast in a 
frying pan at  low heat for about 3 minutes or until dark brown in color. Then 
remove and grind to a powder.

Stores & Prices

    Vijaya Video & Grocery,
    1682 Victory Boulevard,
    Staten Island, NY 10314
    Tel: 718-720-7538
    Lanka Indian Grocery Stores, 
    95-10, 37th Avenue
    Jackson Heights,  NY 11372

Prices of items can be obtained my mail from the stores. The stores 
concerned will mail the goods if paid in advance.  They will charge UPS rates 
which works out to be about $2.50.  If cinnamon is purchased ask for the Sri 
Lankan variety which is light brown/beige and very brittle. They may try to 
give the dark brown hard variety which not aromatic to the unwary.  Prices for 
some key items are given below. 

    Nestle Milk Powder (350 gms)	3.99
    Roasted Curry Powder (250 gms)	3.99
    Raw Curry Powder (100 gms)	1.79

SriLankan Rolls

Stuffing (note you can use any stuffing of your choice, even Stove Top)
1/2  lb 	boneless chicken (could substitute 12 oz can of Jack Mackerel)
1 lb  	potatoes
1/2 lb  	onion
2 tblspns	red pepper
4 tblspns	roasted curry powder
1/4 cup 	oil
to taste	salt 
 Pastry  ( maybe any other pancake mix could be used)
1/2 lb  	flour 
2 cups 	milk (coconut or dairy)
1	egg
to taste	salt
Breading and Deep Frying
3 cups	oil
2 	eggs
1 can	bread crumbs

First make the stuffing. Boil the potatoes and peel of jackets. Cut 
chicken into small pieces. Dice onions.
Add the oil to a pan at medium heat.  Add the onions, chicken, and 
potatoes in that order leaving about half a minute between each and leave for 4 
minute. Add the roasted curry powder, red pepper powder and salt and cook for 
5 minutes. Remove from stove and place where it is easily accessible.
Now for the pancakes. Mix the flour, milk  and eggs using a mixer. Heat 
a non stick pan which has been wiped with paper towel soaked in butter or oil. 
Pour in batter to barely cover the bottom of the pan. Heat at low heat for a 
minute.  Remove the pancake. Place on a plate and place stuffing on top.  Tuck 
in the sides of the pancake to make parallel edges. Roll the pancake to make a 
Continue making the pancakes and the rolls from them. Do not allow the 
pancakes to cool or stand before adding the stuffing as this makes the pancake 
less malleable.
Finally dip each roll into beaten egg and coat all round. Then coat with bread 
crumbs and deep fry until medium brown color.

Egg  plant   curry
1 (approx 1lb)	Egg plant
1oz	oil 
1oz	milk (Coconut or Cows)
2 tsps	Curry powder
1 tsps	Red pepper powder	
to taste	salt
pinch	sugar
2 tsps	 vinegar (or lime)
One 	onion
 Wash  Egg plant and cut into small  pieces. Add oil to frying  pan,  and heat to 
boiling point. Add egg plant and fry until a light brown color (golden color).  
Allow to drain on paper towel to remove excess oil. Add the fried Egg plant,  
milk,  curry powder,  red pepper, salt,  sugar,  and vinegar  to a pot and cook for 
3 minutes.

Chicken Curry
1lb 	Chicken 
2-3 tblsps 	Roasted (black) curry  powder
2 tsps	Hot pepper powder 
2 oz	milk (Coconut or Cows)
2 tsps	Vinegar (or lime
to taste	Salt  
2 cloves	Garlic 
1 	Onion
2 tblsps	Oil

Cut the chicken into small pieces and wash well. Dice onions. Cut the 
garlic into small pieces.
Add the chicken, spices, vinegar and salt and mix well. Allow to 
marinate for some time (optional). Place on very low fire and heat for some 
time. After about 10 minutes the heat may be increased to a slow heat.  Cook for 
20 minutes.  5 minutes before taking down add the milk.

Spicy Potatoes
1lb	potatoes
1 	onion
2 tsps	Hot  pepper powder
2 tblsps	Oil 
1 clove (tsp)	Garlic (powder) 
1 tsp	salt 
1 tsp	sugar 
1 tsp	mustard
2	small green peppers 
Boil or bake potatoes.  Peel of skin and cut into cubes.  Slice onions and 
green pepper.
To a large pan add the oil and heat. Add onions and fry for a minute. 
Then add hot pepper powder, garlic, salt,  sugar and mustard and stir in for 
about 2 minutes.  Finally add potatoes  and green pepper mix in and cook for 3 
minutes you can eat.

Cucumber salad (to accompany curries)
1	cucumber
1	onion
2	small green peppers
1	tomato
1 tsps	Black pepper powder
to taste	salt 
pinch	sugar
1 tsp 	lemon  (or lime) juice

Slice cucumber, onions, green pepper and tomato.  Put into a plastic bag 
and add lemon juice, salt, sugar and black pepper powder. 

Yellow Fish  curry  (not spicy)
1Lb 	King fish (or Salmon or Tuna or Shark or Scallops )
2 cups  	coconut  milk
3 cups  	water
1	onion
2tablsp	mustard
1tspn  	turmeric
1 tsp	garlic
to taste	salt
1 tblspn	lime juice
Wash the fish and cut  steaks into cubes. Add water, onions, salt garlic, 
mustard and fish cook for 15 minutes.  Add coconut milk allow to stand for 1 
minute.  Finally add the lime juice. 

Fish Curry  (Hot & Spicy)
1lb	Tuna (or Shark, Red Mullet)
4 tablspn 	Red pepper powder
2 tblspoons	unroasted curry powder
1tablspn	black pepper
4 cups 	water
2  tablspns 	vinegar
to taste	Salt
1 clove	garlic

Wash fish and cut into cubes.  Add vinegar and salt and knead into the 
fish.  Then mix in red pepper  powder, curry powder, black pepper and garlic 
and cook for 20 minutes.

Spinach with Lentils
1lb	Fresh Spinach (or Frozen  chopped 12 oz package)
1/2 cup	Orange lentils
1/2 cup 	coconut  milk
2 tblspns 	mustard
2 tblspns 	unroasted curry powder 
1 tblsspoon 	turmeric powder
to taste	salt
1	onion 
1 clove	garlic 
1	green pepper   
pinch	cinnamon (optional)
pinch	lemon grass (optional)
1 cup	water

Clean spinach and cut into small pieces. Dice garlic clove, onion and 
green pepper  
Wash lentils and mix with spinach.  Add all  spices, onion, garlic,  green 
pepper, cinnamon and lemon grass  with lentils and spinach and boil for 10 
minutes at medium heat.  Finally add salt and coconut milk and cooking for 2 
minutes on low heat.

Spinach with Coconut

12 oz	Frozen Chopped Spinach
1-2 ozs	Desiccated Coconut
1	Onion
1 tablspn	Lime Juice
2 tblspns	oil
1 tblspn	Red Pepper Powder (optional)
1-2 oz	Small Dried Shrimp (available at Oriental Grocery 

Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess water. Dice onion. Dice shrimp if 
fresh shrimp is used.
Heat oil in pan at medium heat. Add shrimp and onions and fry for 1-2 
minutes. Add spinach and mix well. Immediately add lime juice, salt and red 
pepper. Stir in pan for a 2 minutes at medium heat. Mix in desiccated coconut 
and heat for 2 minutes.

Beet  Salad

1Can 	Sliced Beets
2	Tomatoes
1	Onion
2	Green    peppers
1 tblsspn 	black pepper powder
to taste	salt 
1 tblspn	lime  juice

Slice onions and green pepper and tomatoes
Take salad dish. Add beet, tomatoes, onions  and sliced green peppers. 
Add black pepper salt and lime juice and mix well. Rearrange the tomatoes, 
green pepper and beets for visual effect.

1 lb packet	Frozen Okra
4-5 tblsspns 	oil
2 tbspns 	mustard
1tblspns	unroasted curry powder
1 tblspns	turmeric
1	onion 
1	green pepper
pinch	cinnamon  
to taste	salt    
1tblsspn	sugar
1 tblspn	lime

Dice onions green pepper. Thaw  okra and dry with paper towels. 
Add oil to a pan on medium heat.  Fry the okra until golden brown.  
Then  add  mustard, turmeric,  curry powder,  onion,  green pepper,  cinnamon, 
salt  and sugar and cook for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add lime juice.  

Green beans
1/2 lb   	frozen french beans
2 tblspns 	oil
2 tblspns 	curry powder 
1 tblspns 	mustard
1 tspn	turmeric powder  
1	onion
1 clove	garlic
to taste	salt
pinch	cinnamon

Thaw beans. Dice onions and clove of garlic.
Add the beans to an pan containing oil at low heat. Fry the beans at  
medium to low heat at  for 5 minutes.  Add curry powder, mustard, turmeric,  
onion, salt  and cinnamon, mix well and cook for 3 minutes at low heat. 

Potato  Curry
1 lb	potatoes
1cup   	milk (Dairy or Coconut) 
2 tblspns  	mustard
2 tblspns 	unroasted curry  powder
1 tspns	turmeric  powder
1	onion 
1	green pepper  
to taste	salt
pinch	lemon grass 

Boil potatoes  and remove off skin. Cut potatoes into cubes. Dice onions 
and green pepper. 
Add potato cubes, mustard, curry powder, turmeric,  salt and milk  and 
bring to boil.  Then add oil to a different pan at medium heat. Temper onions 
and green pepper for a minute. Add the contents of the first pot and bring to boil 

Spicy  Onions
1lb  	onions
1/2	cup oil 
4 tspspns   	red pepper  powder
4 tspns	Small Dried Shrimp (optional)
3 tspns	vinegar
2 tspns	sugar   
to taste	salt 
1 clove	garlic   
1	green pepper 
pinch	cinnamon (optional)  
1 piece	lemon  grass (optional)

Slice onions. Dice green pepper and clove of garlic.
Add onions to oil in a pan at medium heat. Allow onions to fry until 
light brown in color.  Then add the red pepper,  diced green pepper, garlic, 
cinnamon, lemon grass and stir in well at medium heat for 3 minutes.  Finally 
add vinegar, sugar and cinnamon  and leave at low heat for 2 minutes.

Green  Banana curry
2	bananas (the cookable variety)
1/4 cup	oil
1/4 cup  	milk (coconut or dairy)
2 tblspns	unroasted curry powder
1/2 tblspn	mustard
1 tspn	turmeric
1	onion 
to taste	salt
1 tspn	sugar
1 tblspn	lime juice (or vinegar)

Peel skin of banana using a knife.  Cut into thin slices. 
Fry sliced banana in oil until a light brown color.  Once banana have 
fried remove and place on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
Add milk, curry powder, mustard, turmeric, onion,  salt,  sugar  and 
vinegar into a pot and bring to boil at low heat. Then add the fried banana and 
cook for 2 minutes at low heat.

Beef  Curry
1lb 	Beef ( any particular cut is fine)
1	onion
2 	tomatoes
4 tblspns	roasted  curry  powder
3 tblspns 	red pepper powder
1tspn   	black  pepper 
3 tspns 	lime juice (or vinegar)
to taste	salt  
1 clove	garlic
pinch	cinnamon
1 piece	lemon  grass (optional)
pinch	cardamom powder (optional)
3 	cloves (optional)
1 cup	coconut milk (optional)

Wash  beef  and  cut  into cubes small cubes preferably 1/4 inch cubes. 
Dice clove of garlic. Grind or crush cloves into pieces.
Add all the ingredients and the beef and bring to boil on low heat and 
leave for 15-20 minutes. Finally add the coconut milk and boil for 3 minutes.
A dry spicy meat can be obtained, if all the gravy is allowed to 
evaporate. This best done in an flat open pan. 

Noodles (Sri Lankan Style)
1pack	Egg Noodles
1/4 lb	lb grated  carrots
1/4 lb  	French  Cut  Beans
1/4 lb 	Diced cabbage
2 	eggs
1	onion 
2	tomatoes 
1/4 lb	butter (or margarine)
to taste	salt

Thaw the beans and remove any excess water using a paper towel
Add the noodles to boiling water and leave for 2 minutes. Take out and 
allow excess water to drain.
Add a little butter and fry the eggs. Stir while frying them to break into 
small pieces. Remove the egg and place in a dish to be used later.
Add butter to a large pan at medium heat.  Add the onions first and fry 
for 1 minute. Then add all the vegetables and fry for 3 minutes. Add salt. Mix in 
the noodles and the fried egg.

2 cups	Thick Coconut Milk
1/2 lb	Brown Sugar
4	Eggs
Pinch	Cardamoms (Optional)  
3	Cloves (Optional)
	Raisins,  Cashew,  

Beat the eggs in a mixer.  Add the coconut milk,  brown sugar  
cardamoms and cloves to the beaten eggs mix well.  Add the mixture into a pot 
and steam  for 20 minutes. Add raisins.
Altrenatively the mixture can be added into multiple small aluminum 
bakimg foils and then steamed. The time required for steaming is about 5-10 
minutes for this method

Fried Rice (Sri Lankan style)

2 cups	Rice (Parboiled)
100 g 	Cashew
50 g	Raisin
50 g 	Green Peas
250 g	Shrimp
2 	onions (diced)
2 oz	Butter or margarine
1/4 cup	vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. 	turmeric (or preferably Spanish saffron)
2 	cloves
2 pieces 	cinnamon
1 piece	lemongrass
to taste 	salt

Cooking the Rice
Add the butter to the saucepan and heat for a minute at low heat.  Add the rice 
and water. A easy way of measuring the right amount of water would be to add 
the rice,  stick in the index finger on surface of rice and fill water upto the 2nd 
joint of the index finger (a little less is also fine).  Add salt and turmeric and 
bring to boil (if not in rice cooker). Then turn the heat to low cover and leave for 
15-20 minutes. The rice should be ready by then.
The other stuff (to be done while rice is cooking)
Add oil to a large pan and heat.  Fry the shrimps until brown (well  done).  
Remove the shrimp. Add the cashew, raisins, green peas, onion with the cloves 
cinnamon and lemon grass and fry for about 5 minutes or until onions are a 
brown color. Remove from fire and wait for rice. 
Finally when the rice is ready add the rice, shrimp and the rest and mix well and 
maybe heat for about 3-5 minutes.  
The flavor is enhanced if the mixed rice is kept for about 6 hours and then 
reheated (microwave) prior to serving.