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Sarana Leaves with Coconut Paste (Sri Lankan Watercress Recipe)

 is a kind of leaves which is commonly found in Sri Lanka. This leafy green is always a popular choice to cook with dhal curry. As it is a kind of watery leaf, the taste is good if you mix with another vegetable or grains including potato and dhal. However, in this recipe, I cooked sarana leaves (watercress leaves) with a coconut paste. As I added garlic and black peppercorn for the coconut paste, the flavours are different. The same coconut paste I use when I cook pumpkin curry to make it more flavourful.

I learned this way of cooking from my mother and as I remember she mention the name ‘Niyambala’ for the green leaves cook with this coconut paste. She likes to cook pumpkin leaves as niyambalawa (wattakka dalu niyambalawa). However as I can’t find pumpkin leaves, I cooked watercress with this coconut paste.Try this.This recipe is a really great way to add a different flavour to your menu.


You will find that I also mention the name ‘Kakkutu Pala’ for this watercress leaves. Although I am also not sure about the correct Sinhala name for watercress, you can use sarana leavesKakkutu pala or any watery leaf in this recipe.


Recipe: Sarana Leaves with coconut (Sri Lankan Watercress Recipe / Sarana Niyambalawa)


1 bunch of watercress leaves (or Sarana leaves)

2-3 shallots/small red onions

1-2 green chili

½ cup thick coconut milk

½ cup of fresh grated coconut

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 tspn of peppercorn (or black pepper)

Salt as per taste



First clean and wash watercress. Coarsely Cut into 2-3 inches’ pieces. Keep aside for draining water.

Wash, clean and slice onion and green chilli. Keep aside.

Now it is time to prepare the coconut paste.

Coconut Paste:

Grind coconut, garlic cloves and peppercorns (black pepper) into a thin fine paste. Add pinch of salt for the same paste.


In a pot add chopped watercress leaves (Sarana kola), sliced onion, green chilli and coconut paste. Add 3-4 tbsp. of water. Mix all.

Cook in low heat for about 4-5 minutes until it is cooked. Add thick coconut milk once it is cooked. Check and adjust salt. Remove from heat once coconut milk starts boiling.

Watercress is ready to serve with plain rice or roti.


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