• Monday, November 30, 2020

Recipes from The Amanwella

Beachside Cuisine in Sri Lanka
By , Food Writer
March 6, 2019

Sri Lanka is its own destination, and no others can prepare you for how beautiful it is. There is virtually no pollution, and its clear waters make it home to some of the most intense surfing in the world. Despite its proximity to India, Sri Lankan cuisine has a distinct character. Its clean air and tropical climate make for a cuisine full of fresh, vegetable-based dishes that are light on oil and dairy. Coconuts and their famous red rice are core ingredients that ground vivid blends of fresh spice leaves and greens. Some dishes leave you feeling like you’ve eaten an herb garden.

Dining at the Amanwella, on the pristine south coast of Sri Lanka, is an experience of classic and modern Sri Lankan aesthetics and flavors. The very talented chef at the Amanwella, Shantha Peiris gave us a beachside cooking class, where we were presented with a basket overflowing with fresh vegetables. This became nine exceptional, flavor-packed recipes.

Some dishes are simple to make, but complex in flavor. Others are a little more of an adventure, but are totally worth it. Here are a few of our favorites.

Coconut Sambol


¼ Coconut, grated (optional – 2 extra halved coconuts to use as bowls)

1 Large onion, roughly chopped               

4 tsp. Chili flakes       

1 tsp. Peppercorns      

1 tsp. Salt                  

2 Limes, juiced


1. Using a mortar and pestle to make a paste of the onion, chili flakes, peppercorns, and salt. Add the grated coconut.

2. Remove the mixture from the mortar and place in a clean bowl.

3. Add the lime juice and mix well by hand.



Take four freshly halved coconuts, leave some of the meat intact, and delicately spoon in the coconut sambol.

Alternatively, simply serve in deep bowls. Garnish with a slice of fresh lime, and serve at room temperature.

Red Rice


500g Red rice

3 1/8   cups Water

1 tsp. Salt

1 pinch Curry leaves


1. Rinse rice well, until the water runs clear. Drain.

2. Place drained rice into a clay pot with the water and salt. Leave the lid off and bring to a boil.

3. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until all of the water has evaporated. Remove from heat, and spread out on a mat to remove lumps.



Spoon heaping portions into clay bowls and serve.

Banana Flower Hindum (curry)


1 Banana flower

1 tsp. Turmeric powder

2 Tbsp. Coconut oil

1 large Onion, sliced

1 clove Garlic

1 small piece Ginger

1 sprig Curry leaves (optional – 4 extra leaves for garnish)

2-inch section Pandanus leaves

2-inch piece Cinnamon stick

5 cloves Gamboge

4 tsp. Chili flakes

4 tsp. Raw curry powder

¼ cup Thick coconut milk

1 tsp. Salt


1. Clean the banana flower by removing each petal and gathering the small florets inside. Continue until you reach the bulb in the center. Open each floret, and remove center stamen and its transparent cover.

2. Gather florets together and shred finely. Rub with the turmeric powder throughout to prevent oxidation. Mix with the raw curry powder and chili flakes. Set aside.

3. Boil the gamboge cloves in water until soft. Separately, heat a heavy-bottomed pan with oil and add in the sliced onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, pandanus leaves, cinnamon sticks and softened gamboge.

4. Add the shredded banana flower and mix well. Cook until wilted.

5. Add in the salt and thick coconut milk. Cook until the coconut milk has evaporated and remove from heat.



Spoon generously into the center of four banana flower petals. Alternatively, simply serve in shallow bowls. Place a curry leaf on each as a garnish. Serve hot. 

Gotu Kola Sambol


1 bunch Gotu kola leaves

1½ cups Grated coconut

2 Green chilies

1 Large onion

1 Lime (juiced)

1 Large tomato


1. Wash the gotu kola leaves and chop finely. Set aside.

2. Chop the onion, tomato, and green chilies.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the gotu kola leaves, onion, tomato, green chilies, and grated coconut. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add lime juice and mix together.



Delicately spoon into a shallow bowl and serve. 

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