Kiri Bath (Sri Lankan Milk Rice)

So I made Kiri Bath today.


In Sinhalese ‘Kiri bath’ literally translates to ‘milk rice’, and is pretty much what it says on the tin. Rice cooked in milk.

Traditionally the dish is considered to be quite decadent, so is customarily saved for special occasions and the first of the month. So keeping with tradition…

Being a Sri Lankan dish, the milk we use is coconut milk. More specifically the first milk from the coconut (or thick coconut milk). Usually a more expensive basmati rice is used (for added fragrance!) but for a healthier option brown rice would easily substitute. I’m also hoping to experiment with bulgur wheat and quinoa….

Unlike a Thai coconut rice, Kiri bath is much less sweeter and doesn’t involve the addition of any sugar whilst cooking so it’s quite versatile, serving as a great accompaniment for both savoury and sweet dishes.

My earliest memories of Kiri Bath involve rolling the elegant diamond pieces in granulated sugar. Why? Well, at five years of age I wasn’t very adventurous. Thank heavens that changed!

Now, I could easily opt for mixing it with gritty fudgey jaggery till it starts melting and oozing (my favourite being palm treacle, from the kithul plam) *cheshire cat grin*

Though, you could always adopt my five year old self’s rookie sugar rolling technique too… but I’d warn you to book an appointment with your dentist! Or even with some banana and syrup!!


For a savoury option, I often make a refreshing Lunu miris (a rough paste made from dry chillies, onions and lime) or a lip smacking Katta sambol. You could even dollop some curry along the side if you fancy.


The possibilities are endless!


For the kiri bath (milk rice):

400g basmati rice

750ml water

500ml thick coconut milk

1 stick of cinnamon

3 whole cardamom, green

1 inch piece of rampe leaf (pandan)

salt to taste

For the sambol:

2-3 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

1 green chilli, roughly chopped

1tsp chilli flakes

juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp of pounded Maldive fish (optional)

salt to taste


Serves 4.

Wash the rice in cold water, drain and repeat.

Drain again, then place rice in a medium saucepan with the cinnamon, cardamom and rampe leaf. Add the water and bring to the boil.

Once boiling, reduce to a medium heat and cover the pan, allowing to simmer for 15mins. Keep stirring at regular intervals. Add more water if necessary to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan or burning.

After 15mins the rice should have absorbed almost all of the water. Add the coconut milk and mix well.

Cover the pan again and cook on a low heat for a further 10 – 15mins till all the coconut milk is absorbed. The rice should look like it’s slightly overcooked. Remove the cinnamon, cardamom and rampe leaf.

Transfer the rice onto a large plate and flatten to approximately an inch thickness (cling film could come in handy when taming the rice!). Cut into the traditional diamond shapes and serve.


For a savoury treat I paired mine with a quick sambol (Lunu miris), made by simply crushing all the ingredients in a pestle and mortar.



For dessert, I chopped up a banana and slathered the whole lot in agave syrup (didn’t have palm treacle!)


You can wipe that drool off your face ;).

One thought on “Kiri Bath (Sri Lankan Milk Rice)

  1. Pingback: Sri Lankan Hoppers

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