Kiribath with pol sambol and seeni sambol

This is my mother’s version of the traditional South Sri Lankan breakfast. It is very much part of the Sinhalese cuisine and a must during New Year celebrations and birthday breakfasts. I like kiribath, more so than the milk rice equivalent in Tamil cuisine called pongal. Therefore, my mother makes kiribath occasionally at home for breakfast. While I will be posting other kiribath recipes when sent in by friends, I am posting today my mother’s recipe for this coconut milk rice dish and accompaniments.

South Sri Lankan breakfast

The recipes below serve 3 – 4 persons.

(a) Kiribath

Cooking time: 20 to 25 mins



  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Coconut powder – 3 tbsp
  • Salt, 1 tsp or to taste
  • Water


  1. Place the rice in a rice cooker and add water to about 2 inches above the surface of the rice. Add the coconut powder and mix. For those who prefer using fresh coconut milk, they can add the coconut milk of medium consistency instead of adding water and coconut powder.
  2. Add salt to the rice and milk mixture and boil the rice.
  3. Once the coconut milk rice has been cooked, it can be put in bowls. Before serving, upturn the molded rice onto a plate or tray.
  4. Serve with pol sambol, seeni sambol and bananas.

(b) Seeni Sambol

Cooking time: 15 mins

Seeni Sambol


  • 1 onion, large
  • Fennel seeds – ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Cinnamon – 1” stick
  • Tamarind extract – ½ cup extracted from 1 small ball of tamarind
  • Crushed chillies – 1 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Low fat oil (canola or sunflower) – 1 tbsp


  1. Chop up the onion in thin, long slices.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and sauté the fennel seeds, curry leaves and pieces of the cinnamon stick. Add the onions and sauté on low heat, for about 5 – 7 mins, till the onions lightly brown.
  3. Add the tamarind extract of medium consistency and crushed chillies to the pan and cook till the onion sauce thickens.
  4. Add 1 tsp of sugar, mix well and cook for about 2 mins more before removing from heat.
  5. Serve with kiribath.

(c) Pol Sambol

Cooking time: 5 to 10 mins

Pol Sambol


  • Scraped coconut – ½ cup
  • Dried red chillies – 3
  • Onion – 1 small
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Low fat oil (canola or sunflower) – 1 tsp


  1. Chop up the chillies, onion and curry leaves and lightly sauté in a little oil.
  2. Remove the chillies, onion and curry leaves from the oil and mix with the scraped coconut.
  3. Add salt to taste and grind the mixture to a sambol texture.
  4. Serve with kiribath.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

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