Just over a month ago I signed up for a weekly recipe e-mail – The Chef Project – essentially what happens is that for a year you receive an e-mail once a week that includes recipes for a 3 course meal created by some of the top chefs in the world. Awesome, I’ve been loving it. Then a couple of weeks ago they added an extra bonus! Everyday I now get an e-mail with a recipe from a chef from somewhere in the world – fantastic! The variety has been amazing and for some strange reason this is actually the first recipe I’ve tried out – Sri Lankan spiced meatballs.

There are so many different food cultures out there and I have to say that Sri Lankan has never crossed my mind or my browsing. So I’ve done a little digging in an attempt to learn more…

There is some overlap and similarity with the food of South India, but it has also been influenced by its location as a trade centre and the involvement of “colonial powers”. Rice is a major feature, as is curry and they have a reputation for having the hottest food in terms of chilli content! Coconut is also a major feature (which is what attracted me to this recipe) – the flesh is used to make coconut sambals (dried coconut, chillies, dried Maldive fish and lime juice crushed to a paste and eaten with rice) and the milk is used to make rice (a dish called Kiribath or milk rice). Coconut milk is used in most dishes and gives the food its distinctive flavour.

So, intrigued by the use of coconut in a main meal, as opposed to coconut milk which I know pretty well, I decided we had to give the meatballs a go. They stem from the Dutch influence on Sri Lankan cooking, being recipe descendents of the Dutch frikadeller. But what to have with them? Rice, of course! I found an interesting looking recipe for yellow rice or Kaha Bath, that also used coconut milk to cook the rice, which was intriguing.

The rice didn’t work out too well – it tasted delish, but was too sticky and wet for our taste. We’ll do it again but watch the water content and steam it earlier next time. The meatballs were divine – the flavour of the coconut, which is toasted, was amazing and really comes through, even against all the other flavours. Plus the kitchen smelled amazing πŸ™‚

So try it out for yourself…

Sri Lankan Spiced Meatballs

(Adapted from The Chef Project)


● 500 g minced beef

●1/2 cup desiccated coconut

● 1 medium onion, chopped finely

● 1 clove garlic, crushed

● 1 teaspoon cumin, ground

● 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

● 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime rind (I didn’t have an actual lime, so I just used a few squirts of lime juice)

● 1 egg, beaten lightly

● 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

● 1 cup dry breadcrumbs

● Pepper

● Salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 150 Β°C. Once at temperature toast the coconut for about 5 min or until golden brown. (Smells amazing!)
  2. In a bowl mix all the ingredients, except the eggs and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roll small balls of the mixture and coat in the beaten egg and then dip into the breadcrumbs and place on a baking tray.
  4. Bake in the oven at 180 Β°C for about 30 minutes.

Kaha Bath (Yellow rice)

(Adapted from www.infolanka.com)


  • 500 grams (2 cups) Basmati or other long grain rice
  • oil, for frying
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 6 cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 inch piece lemon grass (We used bottled sliced lemon grass)
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 level tsp salt


  1. Fry onion until transparent.
  2. Add all the other ingredients, including the rice, and fry for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Pour in chicken stock and coconut milk and cook until the moisture evaporates.
  4. The spices should rise to the top and you can just scoop them off before serving. (This didn’t work for us – boyfriend was digging around in the rice digging out spices!)

You can see in the photo below that our rice was very stodgy…but we’ll try again and get it right next time!