Kiribath with Lunu Miris (Coconut Rice with Sambal)


Spicy red onion sambal is spooned over diamonds of coconut rice in this Sri Lankan dish, served to commemorate new beginnings. While a mortar and pestle is traditionally used to pound the sambal, it also can be gently pulsed together in a food processor.

Kiribath with Lunu Miris (Coconut Rice with Sambal)
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 15 mins



  • 1 ½ cups cups uncooked short-grain rice (such as kekulu haal, white Calrose, or white jasmine)

  • 3 cups water, plus more for rinsing rice

  • 2 cardamom pods (optional)

  • 1 (13 1/2 -ounce) can coconut milk, well shaken and stirred

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Lunu Miris

  • 2 cups finely chopped red onion, divided

  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh red cayenne chile 

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder or ¼  teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper


Make the kiribath

  1. Place rice in a medium saucepan; add water to cover. Swirl rice to rinse, and drain. Repeat process twice, pouring off as much water as possible. Add 3 cups water and cardamom, if using, to rice; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until water is mostly absorbed, about 15 minutes.

  2. Uncover rice; stir in coconut milk and salt. Cook over low, stirring often, until coconut milk is mostly absorbed and mixture is creamy and thick, about 5 minutes. Discard cardamom. Transfer rice to a platter or baking sheet; top with a piece of parchment paper. Spread rice into a 1 1/2-inch-thick rectangle; use a spatula to flatten top. Let cool at room temperature until set, about 5 minutes. Remove parchment paper; cut rice into 3-inch squares or diamonds.

Make the lunu miris

  1. Place 1 cup onion in a medium bowl; set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, mash together fresh chile, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon salt, chile powder, turmeric, and remaining 1 cup onion until mixture is crushed and well combined. Add to onion in bowl; stir in cracked black pepper, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve with kiribath.


Find Kashmiri chile powder at South Asian grocery stores.

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