Ceylonese Traditional Yellow Rice කහ බත්


Sri Lankan traditional yellow rice has been one of the primary dishes of lunch and dinner time celebrations since good old days. Sadly, today, this tasty dish is replaced with non-Sri Lankan rice dishes by the people. And not only that, most Sri Lankans are not aware of the true traditional country style yellow rice recipe.  On the other hand and luckily, still some people in farer towns make this simple but very tasty rice for their special functions. So, I hope you all will find this recipe really useful.


Ingredients for the rice dish

  • 4 – 5 cups of uncooked rice. Preferably, Samba varieties or Basmathi. I do not recommend fully pre-boiled rice varieties (“thambapu haal”) to make this dish. – Washed and rinsed.
  • Light coconut milk:
  • Few pieces of pandan leaves
  • 3- 4 cardamom seeds
  • 2 – 3 cloves
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed as for your taste
  • Water as needed

Ingredients for garnishing (Optional)

  •  Several raw/dried unsalted cashew nuts
  • Handful of curry leaves
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • Oil to deep fry

How to make Ceylonese Yellow Rice

In a cooking pot or a rice cooker, combine rice with all the ingredients except water and coconut milk. As for salt, I normally start with 1 tsp for this amount of rice. You can alter it for your taste before start cooking. When adding turmeric; you can adjust between ½ to ¾ tsp depending on your expected shade of yellow. Remember, it is not advised to exceed a 1tsp for this amount of rice as it may alter its expected taste. Now, add water and coconut milk at 1:1 ratio or ½ and ½ from both from the liquid requirement. Is this confusing? Well, just replace half of the required amount of water to cook the rice with light coconut milk. I am not going to give you exact amount of the water required to cook rice. Because, in the reality, respective amounts slightly varies from rice variety to variety. So, either add water as you are used to cook rice or follow the instructions on the rice pack. As a tip, since this rice is better with a less soft texture, adjust the liquid amount accordingly.

For garnishing

  • Under low-to-medium heat level, deep fly the cashew nuts until they turn to golden color
  • Under moderate heat level, deep fry sliced onions until they turn golden color
  • Under very low heat level,  deep fry curry leaves until they turn dark green and crispy




  1. This sounds delicious!! Reminds me of the kind of rice dishes I used to have growing up in Iraq, although we never used to use coconut oil. But turmeric and cardamom were often used to flavour rice and it was so so yummy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My aunt used to make yellow rice with ghee, lots of curry leaves, onion, cardamom, cinnamon and coconut milk. She garnished it with some roasted cashews and plums and by the time the rice was served, there was no cashew to be found! Can the same rice be made with ghee? If so in which quantity?


    • My mom aunts in short the whole family used to make this using Dunthel (im not quite sure if dunthel and ghee are the same) or butter. they sauted the spices in dunthel and then added rice. I’ve never heard of this method although it looks a bit healthier than the traditional method 🙂


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