Fragrant Samba Rice

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

Samba rice is a tiny short-grain rice grown in Sri Lanka; it has a distinct taste and slightly pungent aroma. Although it’s said to be an acquired taste, preferred mainly by locals, I really enjoyed it. It is quite a starchy rice, so you need to wash it a little longer than other types, but don’t worry if the water doesn’t go completely clear. Infusing the rice with spices and a little ghee dissipates its pungent aroma and adds a subtle flavour that complements the rich flavours of any curry.


  • 480 g (1 lb 1 oz/2 cups) white samba rice*
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) water
  • 8 cm ( inch) piece rampe (pandanus) leaf*, cut in half
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 2 green cardamom pods, bruised


Put the samba rice in a sieve and wash well under running water until the water is fairly clear. Place the rice and the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil for 1 minute, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the rice is soft and all the water has been absorbed.