Keep the blues away, make your traditional breakfast blue | Sunday Observer

Keep the blues away, make your traditional breakfast blue

24 October, 2021

Sri Lankans boast of a rich culinary tradition with a vast diversity of flavours and colours which provide them with essential nutrients and help them live a healthy life. The Sri Lankan traditional dishes are intertwined with the agricultural civilisation of the country. Rice and curry being the staple, most of the dishes of traditional value are made of ground rice.

The main livelihood of the ancient people of Sri Lanka was cultivation. They obtained rice from their paddy fields. Vegetables, pulses, cereals, fruits and other produce were obtained from the chena. Ancient people had food in abundance for their consumption as they were self- sufficient. Due to the abundance of ingredients, people created various food items using their harvest. The ingredients they used in preparation of food, unlike today, did not contribute to non- communicable diseases. Due to this, they were healthy and their life expectancy was high.

Staple rice and curry

Apart from the staple rice and curry, people prepared various dishes using ground rice. The traditional rice varieties are nutrient- dense and prevent people from many diseases. Milk rice, Pittu, String Hoppers, Hoppers, Imbul Kiribath and Roti are the main traditional dishes made of rice flour. These are mainly consumed as breakfast and some dishes are eaten for dinner such as Roti, String Hoppers and Pittu.

Here are some traditional Sri Lankan breakfast recipes infused with butterfly pea flower extract which is regarded as a medicine in the traditional medical stream. These traditional breakfast dishes are healthy, nutritious and palatable. Butterfly pea extract enhances the flavour as well as the goodness of these traditional recipes. The flower extract is derived by steeping the flowers in boiling water for 10 minutes. More the number of flowers are added, brighter the colour of the dish will be. However, over-consumption of butterfly pea flower extract may result in vomiting and diarrhea.

Milk rice

Milk rice has a significant place in Sri Lankan cuisine. This indigenous dish is regarded auspicious. People prepare milk rice to celebrate special events. The main ingredients of milk rice are rice and coconut milk. The accompaniments to milk rice are often Lunu Miris (Katta Sambal), Embul Thiyal or curried fish.

Preparation of blue milk rice- Cook rice (preferably traditional Suvandel rice) with sufficient amount of water and salt. When the rice is cooked, add first extract coconut milk and butterfly pea flower extract. Mix well and let the liquids get absorbed into the cooked rice and turn into a bit sticky consistency.

Imbul Kiribath is another indigenous sweet dish of Sri Lanka which is consumed as a main meal. Imbul Kiribath is a combination of milk rice and caramelised coconut. For Imbul Kiribath, first the milk rice should be prepared in the ordinary manner. Along with that, scraped coconut should be caramelised (Pani Pol) to be used as a filling.

Preparing blue Imbul Kiribath- Prepare blue milk rice. Caramelise scraped coconut with sugar. Lay two ladle-full of blue milk rice over a banana leaf or a Kola Patha (areca-nut leaf). Flatten the milk rice and place a lavish amount of Pani Pol in the center. Fold the banana or areca-nut leaf and roll vertically by pressing firmly to give it a cylindrical shape.

Sunu Sahal Roti

Sunu Sahal are the tiny broken flakes of rice that are left after pounding paddy to obtain rice.

Preparation of blue Sunu Sahal Roti- Soak broken rice flakes overnight. Drain water and grind them along with scraped coconut and salt using a Miris Gala or a blender. Add butterfly pea water as you grind the two ingredients. Once you get a fine slushy paste, take a small amount from the paste and place over a Kenda leaf (Macaranga peltata), flatten and cook both sides in a heated pan until the roti gets golden brown spots.


Preparation of blue Pittu- Mix scraped coconut and rice flour along with salt. Add in butterfly pea flower water and make tiny lumps using fingers. Transform this mix into a Pittu mold and cook in steaming water for 10 minutes.

String hoppers

Although not originated in Sri Lanka, String hoppers or Indi Appa has been a main breakfast and dinner dish of Sri Lankans. String hoppers are eaten with Kiri Hodi, Pol Sambola or curried dhal, fish/ meat.

Preparation of blue string hoppers - Lightly roast rice flour. In a bowl, mix roasted rice flour, salt and butterfly pea water. Mix well until you get a non-sticky dough. Fill the string hopper maker with this blue colour string hopper dough and squeeze onto steamer trays in a circular motion. Steam for a bout 7-10 minutes. Cooked string hoppers are easy to remove from the trays.


Hoppers are said to have been introduced to the world by Indians. Sri Lankans too have incorporated this delicacy into their meals for many centuries. Hoppers are pancakes prepared with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. Hoppers are served either with Lunu Miris or Seeni Sambol (caramelised onions)

Preparation of blue hoppers - The batter for Appa is prepared 6-7 hours (overnight) prior to cooking and allowed to ferment. In a bowl, add rice flour and coconut water gradually to form a thick smooth consistency void of lumps. Add more water if required. Leave this mixture overnight in a warm place. The next day, squeeze scraped coconut milk using butterfly pea water.

Add this thick coconut milk into the fermented mixture and mix well to form a runny consistency. Add a pinch of Appa Soda and salt to taste. Heat a well-seasoned hopper pan and add a few drops of oil and spread over the pan. When the pan is heated, add a ladle-full of batter and swirl around. Cook until the hoppers emanate a fine aroma for about 3-5 minutes.