Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Bun

Seeni Sambol bun
Seeni Sambol bun

Sri Lankan seeni sambol bun is also known as soft and fluffy brioche buns filled with savoury caramelised onion relish with hints of tangy notes and sweetness. This is a perfect snack, breakfast or even a picnic option.

In Sri Lanka, we have a few different types of buns such as fish bun, beef buns, vegetable buns and then the seeni sambol bun, which is consumed as a vegetarian dish although the dough of the bun has eggs in it.

As a kid growing up, my first preference was definitely the fish bun, but there are certain days of the week my parents would stay vegetarian, so this was my preferred option for days like that. In a country that has so much culture and heritage, there is a big percentage of Sri Lankans that are vegetarian. it also comes down to religious beliefs as well.

Although I did grow up eating less meat and more fish and vegetables, my family enjoyed every meat and also I guess coming from a chef background, we definitely had a lot of variety of meat to consume. But in a typical household, there would be at least 5-6 vegetarian dishes and sometimes, one meat option.

How long does it take for the Seeni sambol buns to rise

So many people ask how long does it take to rise, the simple answer is, it depends from country to country, place to place, season to Season.
warmer the country, place, season quicker the rise. Melbourne is quite cold most of the time so it takes me someday 3-4 hours for the first rise (When it is raining and very cold)

How can I get my dough to rise quicker?

If you live in a cold country like me, chances are your dough will take a long time to rise. But there are few tricks you can add to speed up the process.

1. Add warm water as this will speed up the rising process. because humidity and warm environments make the dough rise quicker adding warm water directly into the dough helps.

2. Activating the yeast
 is very important in dough recipes. Activating the yeast means the yeast will froth up when mixed with sugar and water. This trick is used to see if your yeast is good if it is an old yeast your water will not froth. then there is no point making bread with that yeast.

Activating the yeast also helps to raise the dough quicker. Yeast and sugar are best friends, it needs sugar to activate. If the yeast is mixed with salt, it kills the yeast, hence why it is important to activate the yeast and let the yeast feed on the sugar before mixing it all together.
I never recommend adding the yeast directly to a dough. So always activate the yeast for better results.

What other ways can the seeni sambol be enjoyed?

Although I am adding this into a bun in this recipe, which is a common snack in Sri Lanka, we make seeni sambol as a side and relish to go with many other foods.

Milk rice
Coconut roti
Bread ( sandwiched inside like a spread)
Yellow Rice

Saute onions
Saute onions

Can I make the seeni sambol ahead of time

You definitely can make it ahead of time, even a couple of days before.

Seeni sambol
Seeni sambol

How to store seeni sambol bun

You can store it in an airtight container up to 3 days or you can store in the fridge, but reheat it slightly in the microwave just before enjoying.

Substitution for tamarind

It is very important to use tamarind in this recipe because it gives the balance of flavour it needs. But if you don’t have you can use lime or lemon juice to balance the flavour.

Seeni Sambol steps10 3
Soaking tamarind

You can also check my other Sri Lankan recipes

Watch how to make Sri Lankan seeni sambol bun

Step by step recipe how to make Sri Lankan seeni sambol bun

Seeni sambol

Seeni Sambol

a9b20388ac4029be840ebcb8495cf687?s=30&d=mm&r=gRachi Fernandopulle
Sweet caramalised onion relish
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Servings 6 people


  • Pan


  • 4 Red onion Sliced thinly
  • 4 tbsp White sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 Cinnamon
  • 5 cardamom crushed
  • 7 Tamarind seeds soaked in water
  • 6 Cloves crushed
  • 4 Tbsp Oil Canola, vegetable, coconut
  • 1 tbsp Maldive fish Optional
  • 5 Curry leaves


  • To take the tamarind essence, place the tamarind seeds in a small bowl and add 1/4 cup of water, let it sit for 10 minutes. Then massage the seeds, until the water becomes brown and all the tamarind essence have been converted into the water. take the seeds out and leave aside.
    ( The seeds can be further soaked to get more tamarind flavour)
  • Place the sliced onion, tamarind juice, curry leaves, oil, chilli flakes, salt in a large pan and place it on medium fire
  • Let it cook for about 5 minutes, once its cooked and soft, add in the cinnamon, crushed cloves, cardamom and cook for further 5 minutes
  • Once the onions are really soft, add in half of the sugar, Maldive fish cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the fire and cover with a lid and leave it for 5 minutes.
  • Once again turn on the fire to low heat, add in the rest of the sugar and let it cook for 15-20 minutes on low heat until really caramelised and soft. The colour should be dark.
    The taste should be a good balance of saltiness, sweetness and sour. if the sourness is not enough add more tamarind
    ( in the last part of cooking do not cover with a lid)
Keyword Seeni Sambol Recipe
Seeni Sambol bun

Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Bun

a9b20388ac4029be840ebcb8495cf687?s=30&d=mm&r=gRachi Fernandopulle
Brioche buns filled with seeni sambol
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course bread
Cuisine Sri Lankan
Servings 6 people


  • Oven


  • Click here to access the brioche recipe. Start this recipe from step 8 of the brioche recipe
  • Once doubled in size dust flour to the work surface and flatten the edges of the dough. don't flatten the middle as it needs to be fluffy
  • Add 2 Tbsp of the filling inside, fold the top and bottom part of the dough and seal in the middles, then fold the sides
  • Dust flour on to a baking tray and place the buns on the tray leaving a sufficient amount of space in between the buns. The unfolded surface should face up
  • Cover with a damp cloth and let it rise for the second time in a warm area
  • Preheat the oven at 175C
  • After it has risen, egg wash the top of the buns
  • Bake it in the oven for 13-15 minutes until it has golden brown colour on the top
  • Once it comes out of the oven the top will be hard. Leave it outside for 10 minutes until it softens.
  • Enjoy


Keyword Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Bun