Kaha-Buth – Yellow Rice

This is an important festive dish of Sri Lanka. It’s tinted with saffron, cooked in coconut milk and tends to be generously garnished. The following is one example, there are many others, every cook uses their own spices and quantities. 

Feeds 6
450gm (1lb) Basmati rice
½ teaspoon saffron, dissolved in a little water
3 heaped tablespoons ghee or cooking oil
8 – 10 small red onions or 2 large onions, finely sliced
10 – 12 curry leaves
1.75 litres (3 pints) coconut milk mixture, (3 parts thick coconut milk to 1 part water)
12 peppercorns
3 – 6 cloves
6 – 10 cardamom pods
Salt to taste

Rinse the rice well.
Pound the saffron with the water until the colour runs deep. Use more saffron if you want the rice to be a more vivid colour.
Heat the ghee or oil in a deep saucepan and fry the onions and curry leaves for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent.
Add the rice to this and fry for 4 or 5 minutes.
Blend the saffron with the combined coconut milk so that it turns a rich yellow colour.
Pour this over the rice and stir well.
Add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamoms and salt. Stir well. Let the mixture come to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until the rice is tender.
Reduce the heat to almost nothing and continue cooking until the rice is dry and fluffy.
Before serving, remove all the whole spices.
Garnish with thin strips of potato, sliced tomatoes and sultanas, all fried, roasted cashew nuts coarsely chopped and thinly sliced hard-boiled eggs.


  1. Pamela Coasby says

    The recipe should be Kiri Bath, meaning Milk Rice

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