Lunu miris is a spicy sauce, also known as a sambol paste, from Sri Lanka that is made from red onion, chili powder, crushed red pepper, smoked and dried Maldives fish, and lime juice. It is most commonly served as a paste or topping for many traditional Sri Lankan dishes.
Lunu miris (which loosely translates to salt chili in Sinhala) is one of the most popular and well-known dishes from Sri Lanka, and is known for being a delicious combination of simple and easy-to-find ingredients. Each Sri Lankan family has its own sambol recipe and uses ingredients typical in their own region, but most traditional lunu miris recipes call for chopped and ground red onions that are mixed with spicy chili powder, dried chili peppers, and dried Maldives fish before being mixed with lime juice. A mortar and pestle is the preferred method for mixing lunu miris and other sambols, however a small blender can be used to pulse ingredients, and the mixture can also be pressed by hand.
Lunu miris is known as a sambol, or a spicy paste or sauce made from a variety of fresh ingredients. While lunu miris is arguably the most popular sambal in Sri Lankan cuisine, many other sambal variations make up the bold flavors of the island. Sambols and other fish-based spicy pastes and chutneys are also popular throughout Southeast Asia and Southern India.
Sri Lankan seeni sambol (or sini sambol), is similar to lunu miris in that it has red onion and chilis as a base, but it also includes the sweeter and spicier tastes of cinnamon, cloves, and tamarind. Pol sambol, otherwise known as thengkai sambol, includes the addition of coconut and valakai sambol is a sweet and spicy mixture of coconut, plantain, and green chilis in addition to the standard red onion and red chili mixtures.
Lunu miris is served with many different Sri Lankan specialty dishes. One of the most popular ways of eating lunu miri is alongside kiribath, a simple coconut milk and white rice dish served in squares, diamonds or with the rice rounded into a mound and flattened. Lunu miris is also commonly eaten with roti, a wholemeal flatbread most commonly found in on the Indian subcontinent but also made popular throughout Sri Lanka. The dish most Sri Lankan tourists will remember lunu miris served with is egg hoppers, or appam, a bowl-shaped fried coconut and rice crepe that is commonly eaten for breakfast and is a street food favorite.
While lunu miris is great with traditional Sri Lankan recipes, it can also be used to add spice to your own person kitchen favorites. Its bold and hot flavors pair well as a meat marinade, is a topping for grilled fish or roasted veggies, can be used as a mix-in for soups and stews, and as an appetizer with a side of flatbread or raw veggies.
Lunu miris can be made in only five minutes and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or frozen for a month and still retain its freshness. The beauty of this traditional lunu miris recipe from Sri Lanka is that it can be tailored to your own spice and flavor preference level by removing or adding more chili powder and crushed red pepper. Of course, we like a bit of spice here at 196 flavors and loved testing out lunu miris on eggs, bread, and on traditional white rice.
- 1 large red onion , finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon crushed mild red pepper
- 1 tablespoon umbalakada (smoked and dried Maldives fish)
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- Place all the ingredients except the lime juice in a mortar and, using a pestle, crush them.
- Pound the ingredients to develop their flavor.
- Add salt to taste.
- Add the lime juice and mix well with the pestle, pounding the mixture well.