Cook's Hideout: Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Buns for #BreadBakers

May 12, 2015

Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Buns for #BreadBakers

Theme for this month's Bread Bakers is 'Stuffed Breads' and I have bookmarked quite a few stuffed breads from our recent mega marathon. But luckily, Priya picked buns for this month's 'Home Bakers Challenge' and she had these amazing looking caramelized onion filled Sri Lankan buns on the list.
Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Buns
Seeni Sambol is a Sri Lankan relish made with onions. (Seeni means sugar). This seeni sambol is a sweet, tangy and sour relish that is served with any savory meal or as a sandwich filling. So as the name suggests these buns are stuffed with seeni sambol or sweet onion relish.
Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Buns
I followed the recipe from NY Times. These buns are soft and fluffy and the delicious onion relish makes them irresistible. These buns are generally served either for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Buns
I used 50-50 All purpose flour & whole wheat flour in the dough. I skipped the egg in the dough and in the egg wash -- replaced them with egg replacer powder and soy milk. Even with my substitutions, the buns turned out nice and soft.
It is best to serve the buns warm. But they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 1~2 days. Reheat them in the microwave before serving. They can also be frozen (tightly wrapped) for up to a month. My husband enjoyed them with some green chutney as a tea time snack.

Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Buns
Recipe adapted from here:
Ingredients: Makes 8 buns
For the dough:
All purpose flour - 1cup
Whole wheat flour - 1cup
Instant Yeast - 1tsp
Egg - ½ of a large (or use 1½tsp egg replacer powder or flax seed meal whisked in 1½tbsp water) 
Milk - 2tbsp
Salt - 1tsp
Sugar - 1tbsp
Unsalted butter - 2tbsp, room temperature

For the Onion Filling:
Red onions - 1 large, thinly sliced
Curry leaves - 6~8
Red chili flakes - ½tsp (adjust as per taste)
Salt - as needed
Sugar - 1tsp
Tamarind paste - ½tsp
Fresh Ginger - ½tsp, finely grated
Ground Cinnamon - ½tsp

Soy milk - 1tbsp for brushing the buns (or use 1 large egg yolk whisked with 1tbsp water)

  • Make the Dough: In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the dough ingredients along with ½cup of water. Knead until smooth. Turn into a greased bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1½~2hours.
  • Divide the dough into 8 balls and let rise for 30 minutes.
  • Make the Onion Filling: Heat 1tbsp oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat, add the curry leaves and onions. Cook till the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Then stir in the crushed red pepper flakes, salt, sugar, tamarind, ginger and cinnamon. Continue to cook till the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down each ball and press or roll out the dough into a 5" circle. Put a tablespoon of the onion filling in one quadrant of the circle, then fold the dough over like a half moon to cover the filling. Lift the portion of the half moon that has no filling, and fold over once again. Pinch only the rounded edges of the dough together, then tuck them under and place the bun on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dpugh balls. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the tops of the buns with soy milk (or the egg yolk mixture) and bake for 12~15 minutes or until the buns are lightly golden on top and bottom, be careful not to overbake or the dough will be dry. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol Buns
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the BreadBakers home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. This month Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla has chosen breads from around the world that are traditional for Easter, Passover or Springtime. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send an email with your blog URL to Stacy at

Stuffed Breads from the Bread Bakers

Sweet Breads

Savory Breads



  1. The flavors in the filling are wonderful! And the buns look so nice.

  2. I can imagine how delicious the filling is. Sweet onion relish? Yes! And such an easy and cool shaping technique, too!

  3. What cute little buns these are!! Love the filling!!

  4. I think I could eat that sweet onion relish with a spoon, Pavani! Your soft rolls are beautiful. I love the unusual shape created as they bake.

  5. That onion relish looks delicious!!! I am definitely trying these!!

  6. I love how you shaped the buns and that filling must taste awesome!

  7. Your photos of the process of enclosing the filling are so helpful and really brought this bread to life for me; I look forward to trying that technique, thanks!

  8. Oh wow! What an interesting recipe and bread. I love the flavors and the technique! slurp.

  9. That onion relish inside the bread sounds awesome!

  10. Lovely looking bread with a very interesting filling!! I love the way they are folded!

  11. A delicious bread, love the filling.

  12. My coworkers will LOVE this! Can't wait to try it

  13. Beautifully shaped pavani!!! looks totally scrumptions!


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