Pol Roti and Sambol

My recipe for today is pol roti and sambol, which is a quintessential Sri Lankan breakfast. The Sri Lankan roti’s uniqueness stems from the addition of grated coconut to the dough.

In my house, it has been a favourite meal across generations. One of my mother’s favourite childhood memories is that of her mother making roti for their tea on rainy days. My grandmother apparently added her own twist to the coconut roti, by adding chopped chilli and onions, making it a spicy roti which she served with plain tea. As it was an occasional treat reserved for rainy days, my mother and her siblings came to regard it as a favourite food and a special treat. They passed on this partiality to my generation and my cousins, siblings and I all seem to share this preference for roti and sambal. It is not breakfast food at home though, but a dinner meal. Apparently, the tiniest member of our family, my two year old niece, has also acquired this preference for roti after having her first little bite of roti this month.

Katy of Untold Morsels recently asked me what comfort food I made that reminded me most of home. I immediately thought of pol roti and sambol and then I realized that I was yet to share the recipe of pol roti on this blog. So, I decided to remedy the situation immediately with this post.

Pol roti & sambol.jpeg

Do try making the Sri Lankan pol roti and sambol at home! You will surely enjoy the treat!

Pol Roti and Pol Sambol

  • Servings: 3 or 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print



  • Flour – ¾ cup
  • Coconut – ½ cup, freshly grated
  • Salt, to taste
  • Little water
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
  • For spicy version of roti:
    • Atta flour – ¼ cup
    • Green chillies and onions – 1 or 2 tbsp, chopped
    • Crushed chilli flakes

Pol Sambol:

  • Coconut – ¾ cup
  • Red chillies – 5 or 6
  • Onion – ½
  • Curry leaves
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Sift the flour and add the salt and grated coconut.
  2. For the spicy roti version, add the atta flour, chopped green chillies and onions and crushed chilli flakes as well to the flour mix. My mother loves the spicy roti while I prefer it without the chopped onions.
  3. Add a little water to the flour mix and make a dough.
  4. Add a tbsp of oil at the end so that the dough does not stick.
  5. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 balls and keep aside for 5 – 10 mins.
  6. Heat the flat pan.
  7. Flatten each ball and cook it over low heat, on the flat pan. Ensure it sufficiently browns on both sides by flipping it.
  8. Prepare the sambol by lightly frying the chopped chillies, onion and curry leaves and then grinding it with grated coconut and salt.
  9. Serve immediately with warm rotis and a cup of Sri Lankan tea.

spicy roti.jpeg
Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Around the World #3: Carrot Sambol and a Round up!

Check out Indu @Indu’s International Kitchen tour of Sri Lankan cuisine.

Indu's International Kitchen

DSC_1214Its time for a round up of all the Sri Lankan recipes that I have made. I have been ogling at and drooling over countless recipes and I did end up making 7 different ones and have more lined up on my pinterest page that I hope to make soon!  My virtual journey has made me even more determined to visit Sri Lanka some day.  The cuisine just resonates with me so much because of the similarities between Kerala and Sri Lankan way of cooking. The liberal use of coconut and the abundance of seafood and spices! Gosh the recipes are so varied – There are simple salads like this carrot sambal that are made using fresh ingredients and serve as a side/ accompaniment to spicy rich dishes.  Then there are stuffed breads,  spicy chicken appetizers like spring rolls/cutlets and delicious curries using coconut milk.  The desserts are amazing too and mostly use rice…

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Pol Sambol

I was going through my pending recipe folder and came across something that a friend had sent two years back and which I had not got around to posting so decided to share it today.

Mass Silva, a friend from my undergrad years, sent me a photo-story of one of his favourite recipes that he enjoys making with his family. So, hope you enjoy his photo-story on making pol sambol in Germany.







While Mass did not send me the measurements of the ingredients he used in making his pol sambol recipe, for those who are interested, please check my mother’s recipe for making pol sambol which I have shared earlier.

To wrap up this post, I’d like to share a cute song that I came across recently – Wassa Wahinawa.

Have a good week!

Turmeric Coriander Bread with Seeni Sambol

May this special day of Wesak, which celebrates the day of birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, bring you peace!

Nil manel

Blue water-lily – the national flower of Sri Lanka

I am sharing this post on Angie’s challenge for this month with my recipe for turmeric coriander bread filled with seeni sambol. Ever since I started baking last year, I have found that I enjoy baking different types of bread. One of my favourite and successful breads is rosemary olive oil bread (recipe source: Jessie@A Hint of Honey). Using her recipe as a base, I have sometimes played around with herbs to make different versions of the bread and today, I would like to share my Sri Lankan twist to this bread.

Turmeric bread

Turmeric Coriander Bread with Seeni Sambol

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print


  • Flour – 2 to 2 ½ cups, approximately
  • Turmeric – 1 tsp
  • Coriander – 2 to 4 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (as per your taste) or 1 tsp dried powder
  • Pepper – pinch
  • Salt – ½ tsp
  • Sesame/ Gingelly oil – 2 tbsp
  • Warm water – 1 cup
  • Sugar – 1 tbsp
  • Yeast – 2 tsp
  • Seeni Sambol – recipe provided in this post


  1. Stir in 1 tbsp sugar and 2 tsp yeast in 1 cup of warm water in a mixing bowl and let it sit for about 10 mins till it becomes frothy.
  2. Sift the flour and set aside.
  3. Add a cup of flour to the yeast mixture and add the salt, turmeric, pepper, chopped coriander or powder to the mixing bowl.
  4. Mix well before adding the sesame oil and add the remaining flour ¼ cup at a time till the dough is formed. Knead for a few minutes till it is smooth.
  5. Lightly dab the mixing bowl with a little oil and cover, leaving the dough to rise for about an hour.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll out the dough.
  7. Spread the seeni sambol mixture over the surface. Starting from one end, roll the dough into a log.
  8. You could leave the dough as a log or connect the ends to make a round bread or cut into 8 equal pieces. If you cut into 8 pieces, make each piece into a ball ensuring that the ends are closed and that the filling is not seeping out of the dough.
  9. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased baking tray. Cover and refrigerate till about 30 minutes before you plan to bake.
  10. Leave the tray out in the kitchen for about 30 minutes before brushing the bread with either a little melted margarine or dissolved sugar.
  11. Bake the bread at 175⁰C/340⁰F for 20 mins. Check at intervals as the baking time differs depending on the oven.
  12. Serve warm with a nice vegetable soup.


Seeni Sambol

Since I started this blog, I have developed this tendency of asking fellow Sri Lankans I meet  to contribute one of their favourite recipes to the blog. One such instance was when I invited my Mandarin language classmates to contribute to the blog and starting today, over the next few weeks, the guest posts will feature a few recipes shared by my class.

Today’s guest blogger is Hasini Wanninayake. She is currently an international studies undergraduate at Kelaniya university and plans to join the foreign service after her graduation.

Seeni Sambol

This is a side dish that my mother often makes at home. It can be eaten with hoppers, kiribath or in a sandwich.

seeni sambalTime taken: 30 mins

Serves 5 to 6


  • Onions – 5, large
  • Maldive fish – ¼ cup (optional)
  • Ginger – 1”, crushed
  • Garlic – 2 or 3 cloves
  • Cinnamon – 1 piece
  • Cloves – 3 or 4
  • Curry leaves – 1 or 2 sprigs
  • Rampe  – 1 or 2” piece
  • Sera/ Lemongrass – ½ “ pieces
  • Tamarind paste – 1 tsp
  • Vegetable oil – 4 to 6 tbsp
  • Sugar – 2 tsp
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Peel and finely chop the onions.
  2. Mix the first nine ingredients (onions to lemon grass) in a bowl with a pinch of salt.
  3. Heat the oil in a shallow pan.
  4. When the oil starts to sizzle, add the mixed ingredients to the pan and keep stirring for 10 to 15 mins.
  5. When the onions are well fried and dry, add the tamarind paste to the pan.
  6. Continue stirring until the ingredients are well mixed.
  7. Fry a few minutes longer until the mixture turns dark brown.
  8. Add the sugar and keep stirring for a little while longer. Adjust salt, if required, before removing from heat.

Recipe source: Hasini Wanninayake.

Vadai and Pachai Sambal

Black gram, or urad dhal, plays an important role in the cuisine of the north. It is one of the gram varieties cultivated in the seasons in between paddy cultivation and is a major source of nutrition.

Today, I will share my mother’s recipe for her famous vadais as well as a green gram snack in my next post. Vadai can be breakfast food or a tea-time snack or can be served with lunch or dinner. It is the most common snack under the Tamil cuisine of the country and is quite popular around the country.

Vadai with Sambal

(a) Vadai

Cooking time: 20 – 30 mins + 4 hrs (fermenting time)

Makes 10 vadai



  • Urad dal/ black gram – 1 cup, skin removed
  • Green chillies – 2, chopped
  • Onion – 1, medium sized and chopped
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp, chopped
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Low fat oil (sunflower or canola) – ½ litre (for deep frying) + 1 tsp (for sauté)
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Soak the black gram, without the skin, for 3 – 4 hours.
  2. Grind with a little water to thick batter.
  3. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and lightly sauté the chopped onion, chillies and curry leaves.
  4. Transfer the contents of the pan and the coriander leaves to the batter mix and add salt to taste. If you prefer, you can also add 1 tsp baking powder.
  5. Mix well and keep aside for 5 mins.
  6.  Heat ½ l oil in the pan.
  7. Take a piece of banana leaf or something equivalent, dab some water on the surface and put a spoonful of batter onto the leaf. Shape it into a round or elliptical shape with a hole in the middle, like a mini doughnut.
  8. Transfer to the oil pan, 3 to 4 at a time, and fry until golden brown on both sides.
  9. Serve with pachai sambal.

 (b) Pachai sambal

Preparation time: 5 – 10 mins

Serves 4

Pachai Sambal


  • Freshly scraped coconut – ½ cup
  • Green chillies – 2, chopped
  • Onion – ¼, chopped
  • Ginger – ½ “ (optional)
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig, chopped
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Mix and grind all ingredients and add salt, to taste.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Kiribath with Lunu Miris

In lieu of a basic intro, I will quote a line from Indika’s email:

“you don’t eat kiribath with pol sambol it should be lunu miris.”

So, Indika’s second recipe for the day is the traditional combination of kiribath with lunu miris.

(a) Kiribath

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves 2


  • 1 cup rice
  • Coconut milk
  • pinch of salt


  1. Soak 1 cup rice in water for few minutes.
  2. Boil the rice with coconut milk till rice is very soft (When adding coconut milk  mix pinch of salt to the coconut milk and add it to the rice).
  3. When the rice is boiling mix with a wooden spoon.

 (b) Lunu miris


  • 10 small onions cut into pieces
  • 02 tablespoons crushed red chillies
  • Pinch of table salt
  • Few drops lemon juice


  1. Add first three ingredients together and mix it in a grinder for 01 minute.
  2. Take the mixture out and add the lemon juice.
  3. Serve with Kiribath.

Recipe Source: Indika K.

Mixed Veggie Idli with Sambal

My mother’s idlis and vadais are famous amongst family and friends. So, the two are regularly made at home. Unfortunately, I have never been fond of either and used to often eat instant noodles whenever they were being made at home. On the rare occasions that I did eat them, it had to be only that made by my mother. However, I became a fan the first time I tasted my mother’s experimental mixed veggie idli with sambal. I still don’t eat idlis or vadais outside of my home but I am no longer fussy when idli is on the dinner menu at home.

So, today, I am sharing my mother’s recipe for the mixed veggie idli and sambal.

Mixed veggie idli with sambal

Mixed Veggie Idli

Cooking time: 10 – 15 mins + Soaking and fermenting time: around 12 – 24 hours

Makes 16 idlis

Mixed veggie idli


  • Urad dal (Black gram) – ½ cup
  • Basmathi or samba rice – ½ cup
  • White raw rice – ¼ cup
  • Carrot – ¼ cup, grated
  • Leeks – ¼ cup, grated
  • Onion – ¼ cup, grated
  • Green chillies – 2, finely chopped
  • Fennel seeds – ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves, finely chopped
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil


  1. Soak the urad dal, samba or basmathi and white raw rice separately for a minimum of 6 hours.  Overnight soaking is better.
  2. Grind the dal and rice together with a little water to a thick batter consistency, much thicker than pancake batter.
  3. Cover and keep for 6 hours.
  4. After six hours, heat a little oil in a pan and lightly sauté the fennel seeds, chopped onions, curry leaves for a few seconds before adding the carrots, leeks and chillies and fry lightly. Remove from heat and cool.
  5. Stir in the sautéed vegetable mixture and the chopped coriander leaves into the batter mix. Add salt, to taste, baking powder (optional) and a little water so that the batter is easy to pick with a scooping spoon.
  6. Pour the batter onto the idli molds on an idli steamer and steam for about 10 mins.
  7. This batter mix makes 16 idlis.
  8. Serve hot with sambal.

Note: For those who do not have an idli steamer and wish to simply try out this recipe once, the alternative would be to pour the batter into a small bowl placed in a larger bowl with water and steamed, similar to a steamed pudding. The steamed idli can then be overturned onto a plate or tray and then cut into pieces. This would mean though that you would not get the standard or usual shape of idlis and would need to repeat the process a couple of times till the batter mix runs out. Then again, if you do end up liking what you eat, you would probably want to invest in a regular idli cooker with a four or five tiered idli stand for the next time around.


Preparation time: 5 mins

Serves 4


  • Scraped fresh coconut – 1 cup
  • Dried red chillies – 5, chopped
  • Onion – 1, medium sized, chopped
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Oil


  1. Heat a little oil in a pan and roast separately the chopped red chillies, then the curry leaves, chopped onion and finally the scraped coconut and remove from heat.
  2. Mix all and dry grind them to make the sambal.
  3. Serve with the mixed veggie idli.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

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.