Essential spices for Sri Lankan cooking

The use of spices is of the essence of Sri Lankan cooking. Let’s take a spice filled journey and discover what the key spices are and how they can be used to enhance the flavour of your meals.

Coriander - Koththamalli

Coriander is available in the form of dried seeds, powder or fresh leaves. The powder is used in curries, sambar, and rasam. Chopped coriander leaves are used as a garnish, in buriyani or are flavourful in a potato or mixed vegetable salad. Add the leaves in last to avoid a bitter taste.

Cardamom- Ensal/Karadamungu

It is used as flavoring in sweets, drinks and desserts. (Wattalapmam). Its fragrance is very distinct and goes well with chicken and mutton curries and to flavor rice. 

Cinnamon - Kurundu

A sweet and strong tasting aromatic spice, that comes in a form of a quill/stick or powder. It’s great in pork and chicken dishes, vegetable curries and to flavor pilau rice. Also popular as an exotic flavour addition to bread and sweet dishes like cakes, cookies and pies. 

Cloves - Karabu Nati

They have a strong taste and aroma and should be used in moderation. Used to flavor pilau or yellow rice and in and eggnog (Christmas time beverage).   

Fenugreek seeds - Uluhal

It is often roasted to reduce bitterness and to enhance flavor. It gives a thickening effect to veg( dhal, beet etc) and fish curry. When preparing kirihodi, add fenugreek for a boost in taste.

Cumin seeds - Suduru

It is great for biriyani and meat dishes to enhance aroma and flavour and can be used whole or ground. Along with coriander it is one of the most essential ingredients in preparing curry powder. 

Pepper- Gammiris (black and white)

Helps strengthens the flavor of food without making it unbearably hot. Used to prepare the famous ‘black curries’ of chicken, pork and beef. 

Storage tip

Ensure all spices are stored in airtight containers so that they do not lose their aroma and flavour.