Spinach and Cheese Filo Bake

500g pack ready rolled filo pastry
4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
500g spinach (washed and drained)
200g curly kale (chopped)
200g Savoy cabbage (chopped)
200g leeks (white part, chopped)
100g hazelnuts (roasted and chopped)
1 tbs plain flour
250g Camembert cheese (cut into thin slices)
150g breadcrumbs with 3 tbs parsley (mixed together)
3 tbs olive oil
100g butter (melted)
2 egg yolks (beaten)
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 180*. Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic and then the spinach, leeks and other greens. Mix well. Next, add the flour and remove from the heat. Add the nuts and check the seasoning. Line the filo pastry sheets in a baking dish, brush with egg. Spoon over half of the green mixture, then cover with the cheese and breadcrumbs. Top up with the remaining mixture and cover with pastry. Transfer to a baking plate. Brush with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes until golden.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Lentil Rice with Noodles

Lentil rice with noodles is well-known Persian dish. When I lived in Dubai I followed this same recipe, but I did it in my own way using a few Sri Lankan ingredients to create more flavour. I hope you will enjoy it.
2 cups (256g) Basmati rice (washed and drained)
1 cup (128g) green lentils (par boiled)
1 cup (128g) noodles (roasted to golden brown)
100g potato (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup (64g) sultanas
1/2 cup (64g) dates (pitted and chopped)
1/2 cup (64g) pine nuts or cashews (roasted)
100g chopped onion
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
3 tbs chopped ginger
1 dried lime (chopped)
2 small capsicums (chopped)
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 tbs butter
4 tbs olive oil
3-4 cups boiling water
1 tbs cumin powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp mace threads
1 tbs ground black pepper
1/4 tsp saffron
Heat the pan. Add 2 tbs olive oil then add garlic, ginger, onion, capsicum, cumin powder and stir well until the aroma comes out.
Then add potatoes, lentils, noodles and rice and the rest of the ingredients. Add hot water to cover the mixture, mix well and cover with a lid. Cook on a low heat until the rice is fluffy and the potatoes are cooked through. Remove from heat, mix slowly with a fork or the edge of a wooden spoon. Remove the bay leaves. Serve with a sesame chicken (recipe to follow) and creamed spinach.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Risotto Cake

This risotto cake with vegetables is my own recipe. Full of flavours. it’s easy to make and a great dish for vegetarians.
500g risotto rice
200g each of carrots and courgettes (grated), leeks (white part, sliced) and capsicum (seeded and chopped)
1 tin chopped tomatos
250g grated parmesan cheese
1 loaf of brown bread (400g) (crumbed)
150g fresh basil and parsley
3 eggs (beaten)
Olive oil
Boiling water or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Cook the rice by adding the boiling water or stock a little at a time until the rice is cooked. Heat the olive oil, sauté the leeks then add the capsicum. Remove from the heat, add grated vegetables and check the seasoning. Add cheese, chopped tomato and vegetables to the rice and mix well. Using a round cutter, make burger-shaped cakes. Coat with egg wash and the herbed breadcrumbs. Heat the pan on low heat, add the olive oil and fry the cakes until golden. Arrange on an oven tray and bake in the oven set at 175* for 20 minutes.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mixed Vegetable Stew

This dish is pure vegetarian, and easy to cook. There are only a two spices, which means the vegetables are the stars of the show.

500g savoy cabbage (finely shredded)
300g carrot (washed, peeled and diced)
300g new potatoes (cut in half)
300g green peas
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 onions
1 tbs crushed chilli
5 tbs olive oil
1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar

Heat the oven to 170*. Mix the cabbage with salt and 2 tbs of the olive oil, and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Heat the rest of the oil in a pan, add the onion and sauté until soft. Add the crushed chilli, spices and turmeric powder and cook for a few minutes more until the aromas develop. Then add the tomatoes and sugar, check the seasoning and let the pan simmer for another few minutes. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and carrots, and at the last minute add the green peas. Strain and add to the pan, mixing well. Check the seasoning and serve with rice and a salad.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Passion Fruit Cake

Passion fruits are available throughout the year in Sri Lanka – we like to use them for juice cordial, and jam is quite popular too. I use fresh passion fruits for this cake recipe.


4 passion fruit, halved
150g butter, room temperature
250g castor sugar
250g flour
4 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (or desiccated)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbs milk

Icing mixture

Mix together 150g soft butter, 200g icing sugar and passion fruit syrup

To make passion fruit syrup, scoop the passion fruit into a saucepan, add 50g castor sugar and cook on a low flame until it thickens, strain out the seeds and let it cool down. Make sure not to overcook.


Heat the oven to 180*. Line a round cake tin with butter. Mix the butter, sugar and eggs together then add the vanilla, lemon and milk. Mix the flour, baking powder and coconut together. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, making sure it is lump-free. Add half of the passion fruit syrup and mix roughly. Transfer the cake mixture to the baking tray and bake for about 35-40 minutes. If a wooden skewer comes out clean then it’s cooked. Remove from cake tin and let it cool down. Cut the cake in half, spread with the icing and decorate as you wish.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Lotus Root Curry (Nelum ala Vanjanaya)

Lotus root is a well-known vegetable in Asia – in Sri Lanka we use it for curry and in soup. In London, lotus root is not so easy to find (except in Asian supermarkets) but if you can get hold of it please do try this recipe (my own!). It is full of nutrition and also very tasty.


250g lotus root (cleaned and sliced)

2 medium tomatoes (diced)

I onion (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

2 green chilli (sliced)

3 sprigs curry leaves

1 inch cinnamon stick

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 turmeric powder

1/2 mustard seeds

1 tbs olive oil

1 cup coconut milk

Salt to taste


Mix the curry powder with the sliced lotus roots and keep to one side. Heat the oil in a pan and add garlic, onion, curry leaves, chilli, cinnamon and mustard sees. Cook for about five minutes or until the aromas come out. Then add the lotus roots, tomatoes and salt and mix together. Cover and slow cook for about 10 minutes then add the coconut milk. Simmer on a low flame, check the seasoning. When the gravy is absorbed into the vegetable, remove from the heat (make sure no to overcook). If you like, sprinkle with half a teaspoon of roasted curry powder. Serve with rice or bread.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Jack Seed Curry (Kos ata kalupol maluwa)

Jack seed curry is a well-known Sri Lankan  dish. I still remember Mum making this with fresh jack seeds, full of flavour. A pure vegetarian dish, you can make it for lunch or dinner instead of fish or meat curry.



30 jack seeds with shell

1 big onion (chopped)

4 garlic cloves (chopped)

2 tbs chopped fresh ginger

4 green chilli (sliced)

4 sprigs of curry leaves

2 tbs raw rice (pan roasted and ground)

3 tbs scraped coconut (pan roasted and ground)

3 small pieces dried bridle berry (goraka)

1 piece of cinnamon

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 mustard powder

1 1/2 tbs roasted curry powder

1 tbs chilli powder

1/2  black pepper powder

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups water

2 cups coconut milk



Roughly crush the jack seeds. Heat the oil in a pan, add garlic, ginger,onion, chilli, cinnamon and curry leaves and cook until the aromas come out. Then add all spices, roasted coconut and rice powder. Add the jack seeds and water, mix well and cover and cook until they are soft. Then add the coconut milk, check the seasoning and simmer until the jack seeds absorb the flavours. Serve with boiled rice or bread. For best results use a clay pot.



© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Sri Lankan Broccoli with Fresh Coconut (Mellum)

In SriLanka we use the same recipe for different varieties of green leaves and raw jackfruit – it’s very popular with authentic rice and curry. I hope you will enjoy my own recipe with broccoli,  I even managed to find a broccoli flower for garnish.


300g broccoli

4 tbs  fresh coconut

2 sprigs of curry leaves

2 red or green chillis

1/2 onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbs ginger

1 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 black pepper seeds

1 tbs lime juice


3 tbs water




Shred the green part of the broccoli, transfer into a pan with water. Cover and cook on a low flame until the water disappears. Grind the coconut with the rest of the ingredients and mix with the broccoli (I use a pestle and mortar but you could use a food processor). Cook for a few minutes, then remove from the heat. Add the lime juice, serve with rice.


© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mushrooms with Vegetables

In Sri Lanka you can find several varieties of mushrooms. When you mix mushrooms with vegetables you get a great flavour, inspiring me to create this hearty vegetarian dish. It has become a firm favourite among my friends and family, and I hope you enjoy it too.


250g mushrooms (cleaned and cut)

100g onion (chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 leek (washed and chopped)

200g broccoli (parboiled)

150g brussels sprouts (clean and par boiled)

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs crushed chilli flakes



Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic, onion, and chilli. Cook until golden brown, then add the mushrooms and cook until soft. Then add the other vegetables and mix well. Check the seasoning then remove from the heat. Make sure not to overcook the green vegetables so they keep their crunchiness and nutritional content. You can serve this dish with rice or bread.

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.

Mixed Vegetable Cutlets

Vegetarian finger food is very popular in Sri Lanka, especially cutlets. I am happy to share with you my own version of vegetable cutlets – they are lovely before a meal, and have had lots of great comments from friends.


100g diced butternut (seedless and skinless)

100g leeks (washed and finely sliced)

1 red capsicum (seeded and finely chopped)

100g boiled red lentils

2 green chillies (finely chopped)

4 sprigs curry leaves (finely chopped)

2 garlic cloves (chopped)

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cumin and coriander powder

1 tbs lime juice

2 eggs

100g fresh bread crumbs

Oil for deep frying

Salt to taste



Mix all the ingredients together with spices and seasoning. Take equally-sized amounts of the mixture and mould each into a ball. Beat eggs in a bowl and dip the balls into egg mixture, then coat with bread crumbs. Heat the oil and deep fry the cutlets until golden brown (the oil should be deep enough to cover the cutlets). Drain excess oil on paper towels. Serve as snack, or with rice and curry.

For my recipe for tuna balls, click here

© Ajith Perera. All rights reserved.