Kiri bath


Srilankan Milk Rice

Kiri bath literally translates to Milk rice. But this is milk rice made with coconut milk. It is one of the most traditional breakfast recipes in Srilanka, and is considered to be a symbol of prosperity and plenty. Srilankans welcome the new year with kiri bath. No event, festivities or special occasions are complete without the kiribath.

In Srilanka, kiribath is the first solid food fed to an infant. It is also the first food fed to newly weds. Kiribath is also offered to Lord buddha. In some families, it is prepared on the first day of every month.

On new year day, which falls on the same day as Tamil new year, the kiri bath is prepared in newly bought clay pots, by the mother of the family. It is then symbolically fed to all the members of the family by the father or the  head of the family.

It is a very simple preparation using just four ingredients- rice, water, coconut milk and salt. The rice generally used in short grained ‘kekulu rice’. But it is always  raw rice, as it is offered to the gods as well. In South Srilanka, red raw rice is used. Any raw rice with neutral flavour would work. But I have made using jeeraga samba rice, as its flavour  pairs so well with coconut milk.

After preparing it is usually poured into a tray and cut into diamond shapes and almost always served with lunumiris, which is spicy chutney made by pounding onions and red chillies.  Though  ambul thiyal or some spicy  veg or non-veg gravy will also go well. Kids are generally served with some sweet side dish like kitul treacle or jaggery.

I served it with lunumiris, and had it the Srilankan way – mixing up both the kiribath and lunumiris with the fingers, and then eating it. It was delish 🙂  .

Over to the recipe…


Kiri bath
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Soaking time30 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Srilankan
Servings: 2 people
Author: Hema Magesh
  • 1/2 cup(100 g) Jeeraka samba/jeerakasala rice
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup medium thick coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For coconut milk

  • 1/2 cup coconut bits (50 g)
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • Soak the rice in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer it to a saucepan, add another 1/2 cup water and the salt and cook till the rice becomes soft and all the water evaporates. 
    Kiribath preparation steps 3&4
  • Now add the coconut milk and cook till you don't see any water at the base of the vessel.
  • Transfer the contents from the sauce pan to a greased flat plate, banana leaf or parchment paper and spread to about 1/2 cm thickness, using a flat ladle.
    Kiribath preparation steps 7&8
  • Allow to become warm and cut into slices. Serve with lunumiris or any spicy curry like ambul thiyal.
    Kiribath preparation steps 9&10

Hema’s P.S

  • You can use any raw rice that is available.
  • Wait for the coconut milk to be completely absorbed by the rice before transferring to the flat plate, banana leaf or parchment paper. 
  • Banana leaf gives a very good flavour to the rice. But as I did not have banana leaf I have used butter paper/parchment paper. 
  • I prefer to use medium thick coconut milk, but Srilankans normally use thick coconut milk. If you are fond of coconut milk you can even opt to cook the rice in thin coconut milk instead of water.
  • Lunumiris is the choice of Srilankans by default, and is the best with this rice.


Hema Magesh signature




Some of my other Srilankan Preparations

Pol roti

Srilankan Parippu curry

Pol sambol









Back to Srilankan Cuisine


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.