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Kiribath for the New Year

Updated: Jan 1, 2019


Happy new year to you.


In my family, we make kiribath or milk rice as it’s also known, to welcome the new year. It’s a simple and heart warming dish made of rice and coconut milk, seasoned only with a touch of salt and fresh cardamon pods that have been gently bruised to release their perfume. We serve it as part of the breakfast table or when visitors drop by on the New Years day.


Imagine a rich rice pudding that has the versatility of savoury or sweet. It‘s spiced with the warmth of cardamon and I also like to add a cinnamon quill for for some sweetness.


Kiribath hails from the island of Sri Lanka and is served in most homes for momentous occasions such as births, weddings, and moving into a new home. The simplicity of the ingredients represent the big hearted gesture of prosperity and good health for new beginnings.


Once the rice is cooked with the coconut milk until soft and unctuous, it‘s served on a platter and then patted out for an even finish. The starch in the rice combined with the coconut milk allows the rice to set into shape and once slightly cooled you cut along the diagonal to create diamond-shaped pieces for serving.


Kiribath is enjoyed two ways; spiced and savoury with a deep red onion sambol and sweet with grated jaggery. For the adventurous; you might have both together for the ultimate salt-sweet taste sensation.


To be offered kiribath on the first day of the new year is an honour and one not to refuse no matter how festive you‘ve been the night before.


How do you welcome the new year?


Kiribath for the New Year


250g basmati or long grain rice, washed

150ml cold water

600ml coconut milk

3-5 cardamon pods, lightly crushed

cinnamon quill

salt to taste


To start

Wash the rice and place in a deep saucepan, add just enough cold water to cover the rice.


Bring to a gentle simmer and add coconut milk, cardamon pods, and cinnamon quill. Mix and continue to simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Add salt to season. Stir occasionally to ensure rice is cooked evenly for about 10-15 minutes.


Remove from stove when rice is soft; be sure not to overcook the rice. You should still be able to see individual grains.


Allow the rice to cook slightly, remove cinnamon quill. Spoon the rice while still warm onto a platter, piling mounds of rice from the centre.


To finish

Using a spatula, gently pat out the rice from the centre, until you have an even circle or oblong depending on the shape of your platter. Keep the thickness of the kiribath; a ‘tall’ kiribath is said to be especially appealing.


To serve, cut along the diagonal, creating diamond shapes and accompany with luni miris or grated jaggery.


Serves 4-6.


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