I've assembled here a collection of recipes which I particularly enjoy. Some of them are Sri Lankan in the sense that they were handed to me by my mother, Hemalatha Marasinghe. All the ingredients are available in England, though you may need to visit a speciality shop for some of the more obscure items. Importantly, the Sri Lankan recipes are Sri Lankan in spirit. Sri Lankan food is very hot and heavily spiced, employing a variety of vegetables, as well as meat and fish.

Basic Techniques

Boiling Rice

Each type of rice grain requires a different cooking method. I will explain here the method for cooking long grain basmati rice. Basmati is not a Sri Lankan grain (samba is the staple in Sri Lanka), but it is a good second best!

First, the rice should be thoroughly washed to remove stones and other debris (supermarket rice may come ready washed, but wash it anyway). You'll need about half a cup of rice per person. The amount of water used is crucial. For each cup of rice, you will need to use 1½ to 2 cups of cold water. Add the rice and cold water to a pot and bring to the boil. Let it boil for a minute, then cover and simmer on a low heat until virtually all the water has boiled off. This should take about 20 minutes. Never stir the rice. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for at least five minutes. If you've cooked the rice properly, it should not need to be strained. Your rice is now ready to serve.

Boiling Potatoes

Fill a large pot with cold water and heat. When the water is nearly at boiling point, add the potatoes. Bring to a boil, cover and keep cooking on a high heat. Use a skewer to check if the potatoes are cooked — the skewer should slide through smoothly.


Virtually any kind of vegetable, pulse, meat or fish may be curried. I offer a few recipes below, but the list is limited only by your imagination. However, the fundamental principles remain the same for any curry you may make.

The primary principle is restraint. It is generally inadvisable to make one big 'curry' which contains all the things you wish to eat with your rice. Instead, the curry should contain one main flavour, or perhaps two complementary flavours


Potato Curry


  • Potatoes
  • Maldives fish flakes (if available)
  • Onions
  • Turmeric
  • Chili powder
  • Curry leaves
  • Salt


Boil the potatoes until fairly soft. Drain and peel the potatoes, then cut them into quarters. Fry a good quantity of onions in a frying pan, together with the curry leaves and Maldives fish. Add turmeric, chili powder, and salt. Add the potatoes. Turn down to a medium heat and cook until done (the potatoes should be golden-brown when properly cooked), stirring occasionally.



  • Greens
  • Onions
  • Curry powder
  • Maldives fish flakes (if available)
  • Turmeric
  • Curry leaves
  • Salt


Discard yellow or mottled greens. Wash thoroughly. Cut the stalks from the leaves and keep them aside. Cut up the leaves and the stalks.

Fry the stalks together with a chopped onion. When the stalks are a little greener, and some curry powder, turmeric, curry leaves, etc. Add the green leaves and cook on a simmer until fairly soft. Add salt, if desired.

Lentil Curry


  • Red lentils
  • Turmeric
  • Onions
  • Green chillies
  • Curry leaves
  • Curry powder
  • Coconut milk
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice


Wash the lentils then boil them in water, with a little turmeric. Meanwhile, cut onions, green chillies, and curry leaves. When the lentils are almost boiled, add ½ tsp. of curry powder. Mix ½ cup of coconut milk and the other ingredients in a bowl. When the lentils are almost cooked, add the contents of the bowl and simmer. When the lentils are cooked, add salt and lemon juice to taste.


Ingredients (makes about 12)

  • 4 oz plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 fl oz milk, added to 3 fl oz water
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • butter for frying the pancakes


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk or fork
  • Frying pan
  • Spatula
  • Ladle (optional)


This recipe is based on Delia Smith's presentation, with the addition of extra details on frying technique.

Sift the flour and salt together into the mixing bowl. Create a well in the centre and break the eggs into it. Begin to whisk the eggs, bringing in flour from the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the milk/water mixture as you continue to whisk.

Add the melted butter and whisk until the butter is mixed in. You're almost ready to go, and this is the point where real skill is required. You need to add about half a teaspoon of butter to the pan. The purpose of the butter in this context is to keep the pan lubricated so that the pancakes can be easily flipped. Heat the pan to a high temperature and keep it hot. I depart from Delia's instruction at this point, as she recommends turning the heat down to a medium.

Measure out about a ladle's worth of batter and pour it into the pan. Swirl the batter around to ensure that the pan is evenly covered. Wait until the pancake is properly cooked on the bottom surface before trying to flip it — if you try flipping too early the pancake will stick to the pan. Generally, it will take about 40 seconds to cook the pancake on one side; you'll know it's cooked because the pancake will have a golden-brown appearance underneath, and will slide smoothly from the pan. Now use a spatula to ease the pancake from the surface of the pan. To turn the pancake over, you may either give the pan a jerk or (to be more cautious!), slide the spatula between the pancake and the pan, lift, and turn over. The second side will only need about 10 seconds. Ideally, the pancakes should be eaten as soon as they are cooked, otherwise, pile them onto a plate to be kept in an oven preheated to about 60 degrees Celsius.

Typically, your first (and possibly second) pancake will be a disaster, being either to thin or too fat, burned round the edges or scrunched up from a botched flipping. Learn from your mistakes, and improve! The ideal pancake is about 3mm in thickness. If your pancake has burnt edges, it's probably too thin. Add more batter to the ladle. Conversely, if the pancake didn't flip properly, then you didn't let it cook long enough, so add extra cooking time, or decrease the amount of batter.

When the pancakes are ready, serve with lemon, sugar or syrup.


Ingredients (serves four to six)

  • 500 g packet of white bread mix
  • one aubergine
  • one large onion
  • one large tomato
  • 250 g mushrooms
  • 100 g cheddar cheese
  • 2 packets fresh mozzarella
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • one bell pepper
  • handfull of fresh basil
  • pinch of oregano
  • 11.5 fl oz (320 ml) of warm water
  • olive oil


For the dough, I typically use a bread mix such as Wright's Premium White bread mix (available from Sainsbury's). The following is essentially their recipe for pizza dough:
  1. Combine the bread mix with the water in a large bowl. Mix for 5 minutes to form the dough.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a number of smaller balls of dough (depending on the number of pizzas you wish to make).
  3. Lightly cover the balls of dough and the bowl with olive oil
  4. Place the balls back in the bowl and cover with clingfilm.
  5. Begin preheating the oven at 280 °C (540 °F).
  6. Leave the dough to rise for 30 to 40 minutes.
Now for the toppings!
  1. Slice the aubergines, mushrooms and the onion and sauté them in olive oil. The aubergines need quite some time so sauté them separately. Place the cooked ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Chop the peppers and tomatos and add to the toppings bowl.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and press into oiled baking trays.
  4. Dress with tomato purée, the cooked vegetables, the tomatos and the peppers.
  5. Slice the cheddar and mozzarella. Add to the pizzas.
  6. Finally, sprinkle over some oregano and pop the pizzas in the oven
  7. Cook near the top of the oven for about 15 mins, checking after 10 mins, then every 5 mins.
  8. Just before serving, tear or chop the basil and sprinkle on the pizzas.

Cajun Chicken

Ingredients (serves two)

  • Four pieces of chicken (thighs or drumsticks)
  • 1½ tsp Cajun spice mix
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp Dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Knob of butter
  • Olive oil


Note that this recipe is adapted from a Cajun mullet recipe found at Sealanes Fresh Food Market.

Take a sufficiently large skillet and use it to melt the butter. In the meantime, mix the dry ingredients in a shallow dish. Pierce the chicken pieces with a sharp knife and rub them with the melted butter. Roll the chicken in the dry mixture and massage it in.

Be warned: the cooking process will produce a lot of smoke, so have the window open!

Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet. Heat the pan to a fairly high heat then add the chicken. If you have one, use a mesh cover to prevent splattering. Turn down the heat to medium and cook for about 15 mins, turning once.

The skin of the chicken will blacken during cooking — this is quite ordinary!

Fruity Chorizo

This is an original recipe of mine, partly inspired by a tropical fruit and chorizo dish of Matthew Fort. My recipe adds some carbohydrates, in the form of pasta, and dispenses with tropical fruit, falling back to ordinary nectarines!

Ingredients (serves two)

  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 200 g penne
  • 2 nectarines
  • a handful of coriander


Boil the penne according to the packet instructions. While you're doing this, slice and skin the chorizo (the slices should be about 5mm in thickness). Fry them gently in a little olive oil. Slice the nectarines and cut each slice in half. Coarsely chop the coriander.

When the penne is boiled, drain it and add to a warmed plate. Add the chorizo and drizzle the chorizo oil over the pasta. Add the sliced nectarines and coriander. Season with a little salt and pepper.

This dish is delicious with a nice herb salad consisting of baby spinach, roquette, coriander, lollo rosso, chives, and frisee. For a light dressing, just add a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.

English-Style American Hamburgers

This is my own take on a classic American dish. I substitute (English) muffins for burger buns and use real cheese instead of American cheese-substitute.

Ingredients (serves two)

  • 250 g (½ lb) lean minced beef
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 sticks of celery, sliced
  • 4 slices (hand-sliced!) mature Cheddar
  • 1 handful of chopped red onion
  • 2 (English) muffins
  • salt, pepper, olive oil


Gently mix the beef, olive oil (about 1 tbsp), salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl. Divide the mixture into two balls and press into patties. As with dough making, this is a sensual delight, so enjoy the experience.

Take a skillet of generous size and line it with olive oil. Place the pan on a high heat then add the patties when the oil is hot. You will need to turn the patties once, and be aware that the insides may not be cooked even if the surface is crisp — hence you should keep cooking for about five minutes after the outside seems done.

Prepare the muffins by cutting down the middle and thinly spreading Dijon mustard. Add the cooked patties followed by layers of cheese, red onions and celery. The celery will spill over onto the plate, this provides a little decoration. Now eat with your hands.


There are many fine food sites out there on the web. I present some of my favourites.

External Food Sites

External Recipes