5 Recipes All Sri Lankans Must Know.

If you are Sri Lankan and now live oversees and miss your Amma’s rice and curry or you are just tired of, take outs and long for a hot home-cooked meal, or you just want to woo friends and family with these taste bud tantalizing Sri Lankan curries and exotic dishes that are so easy to make. Here are five mouthwatering dishes just for you. 

Sri Lankans make liberal use of Coconuts, and use it in almost all their curries. So, in each of these recipes, you will find coconut added to the list of ingredient requirements.  

1. Chicken Curry

Very easy to make and Chicken Curry is a common household dish in Sri Lanka. There are many variations of this dish depending on your preference in taste and where you live. Here is how I make it.

What you need:

  • 500g of Chicken (Washed and cut into a size of your choice but not too small)
  • 2-3 tbsp of Unroasted chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp of Roasted Curry powder
  • 2-inch piece of Cinnamon 
  • 3 Cloves 
  • 3 Cardamoms 
  • ½ tsp of fenugreek seeds
  • Curry leaves and a small piece of pandan/rampe’ leaf
  • A sprig of Lemongrass
  • 1 medium-sized onion chopped fine
  • 2 green chillies chopped 
  • 3 cloves of garlic and a 1 inch piece of ginger grounded 
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • Tamarind or pure coconut vinegar (whatever you prefer)
  • Salt to taste 
  • 2 cups of thick coconut milk (optional) or 1 ½ cups of water
  • Coriander leaves for garnishing


  1. Heat the oil in a pan, (I use a clay pot), once heated, add the chopped onions, green chilli, ginger and garlic, curry leaves, Cinnamon, fenugreek, cloves and cardamom and let it cook till the onions are translucent. Stir it every now and then. 
  2. Add the chilli and curry powders. Mix it all up and reduce the flame on your stove.
  1. Add the chicken.
  2. Add the salt and Tamarind/vinegar and mix it all up well. 
  3. Add the sprig of Lemongrass.
  4. Add the Coconut milk/water and mix it up well.
  5. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 10 minutes. 
  6. Check on the Chicken curry every 2 minutes thereafter and let it cook till you see the curry just bubbling and turning into a thick gravy. The total cooking time is about 25 minutes.
  7. Switch the stove off and let the curry cool off a bit and sprinkle the finely chopped coriander leaves just before serving.   

Tip- To avoid the Chicken becoming too soft and shreddy, do not overcook it.  

2. Dhal/Parippu Curry (Split red lentils)

Dhal curry is the most common curry in all of Sri Lankan cuisine. In fact, a staple in any Sri Lankan restaurant or household. 

What you need:

  • 200g Dhal/Parippu (red lentils)
  • 1 ½  cups of thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup of thin coconut milk (optional)
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 chopped green chilli
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • A sprig of curry leaves and a small piece of Pandan/Rampe’ leaf
  • ½ tsp of mustard seed
  • ½ tsp cumin seed
  • ½ tsp of fenugreek seed
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon 
  • 1 tbsp of chilli flakes 
  • ½ tsp Unroasted curry powder
  • ¼ tsp of turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil 
  • Salt to taste 


  1. First, wash the dhal well and then boil it using either a cup of water or a cup of thin coconut milk till it turns yellow. Add the turmeric. Be mindful not to over boil it.
  2. Once the dhal is boiled, put it into another container.
  3. Heat the oil in the same pan you used to boil the dhal. (I use a clay pot)
  4. Add the chopped onions, green chilli, garlic, mustard seed, cumin seed, fenugreek seed, curry leaves and pandan/ rampe’ leaf. 
  5. Let it cook till the onions turn translucent and you hear the mustard seed pop.

Add the chilli flakes and unroasted curry powder.

  1. Add the boiled dhal and mix it up well.
  2. Add the coconut milk. Mix it up well. 
  3. Add salt to taste.
  4. Allow it to cook on a low flame, let it simmer.

3. Pol Sambol (coconut relish)

Pol sambol or coconut relish is a simple blend of finely grated coconut and other spices infused together. It isn’t surprising because Sri Lanka is a country in which coconut plays a vital role in almost all our curries and dishes. It goes well with almost anything especially hot rice (just out of the pot) on a rainy day.

What you need:

  • Half of a freshly grated/scraped coconut
  • 3 Finely chopped red onions
  • 1 finely chopped green chilli
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 medium-sized lime
  • 1 tbsp of grounded Maldive fish
  • 1 ½ tbsp of Chili flakes
  • 3 peppercorns
  • Salt to taste


  1.  Put all the chopped ingredients, chilli flakes, peppercorns, salt into your grinder or wooden mortar and pestle and blend it well. 
  2. Add the lime juice, mix it a bit. 
  3. Add the grated coconut and mix all up.

Tip- You can add a tiny bit of finely chopped curry leaves, it actually enhances the taste of the coconut sambol that much more. 

4. Brinjal/ Wambatu/ Eggplant Moju

Served mostly with rice and curry, Brinjal moju is an awesomely flavourful pickle. Brinjals/eggplant is usually a purple-skinned, long and slender variety. It is mostly deep-fried and then cooked or pickled but it can also be cooked as it is. It is a versatile vegetable and a very popular one in Sri Lanka. 

What you need:

  • 5oog of Brinjals, deep-fried to a golden colour 
  • 2 medium-sized onions finely chopped
  • 3 green chilis split lengthwise 
  • 1 capsicum finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 ½  tsp of ground mustard seed
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tbsp of chilli flakes 
  • Vinegar to taste
  • Sugar to taste 
  • Salt to taste 
  • A sprig of curry leaves and a 2-inch piece of pandan
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil


  1. Heat the oil.
  2. Add the garlic and capsicum and let it fry for a bit (not too much).
  3. Add the curry leaves, cinnamon sticks and pandan leaves.
  4. Add the green chilli and let it cook for a while.
  5. Add the chopped onions and mix it all up, let it cook for only a minute, not more. Because the onions need to be crispy. 
  6. Add the chilli flakes and brinjals and mix it well. 
  7. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and grounded mustard seed and mix it well.
  8. Let it cook for about 2 minutes which enables all the spices to infuse into the brinjals. 
  9. Take it off the stove and put the brinjal moju into another container.

5. Potato fry

Potatoes are prepared in many ways. The skin on, peeled, boiled, fried and even grilled. It’s such a versatile root vegetable and is loved by people all over the world. It is one of the easiest vegetables to prepare. If you are in a hurry and have just 20 mins to make something simple yet Sri Lankan, this recipe is just for you.

What you need:

  • 3 medium-sized boiled potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces.
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 ½ tbsp of chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp of mustard seed 
  • A sprig of curry leaves and a 2-inch piece of pandan leaf
  • ¼ tsp of turmeric (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 ½ tbsp of coconut oil


  1. Heat the coconut oil in a pan.
  2. Add the chopped onions, garlic, green chilli, curry leaves, pandan leaf and mustard seed and let it cook in the oil till the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the mustard seed, mix up occasionally till the mustard seed pops. (You can actually hear it pop)
  4. Add the chilli flakes and salt to taste and then add the boiled potatoes.
  5. Mix it up well and add the turmeric if you like. (Adding turmeric brings more colour to the dish rather than taste)


For Sri Lankan dishes to taste good, it is of utmost importance for the spices /ingredients to be of good quality and properly stored in airtight containers. All the recipes that I shared with you should be served with hot rice and maybe a papadum. Hope you enjoy trying out the recipes as much as I enjoyed writing about them! 

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