The use of coconuts in Sri Lankan cooking is not limited to its milky properties for gravies and adding balance to spicy curries; its light and refreshing flesh in grated form gives sambols (a traditional relish made up of blended coconut and spices) and mallums (vegetable based semi-cooked and raw salads) more rounded flavor and adds texture and really brings life to a meal. A Sri Lankan staple, the humble Pol Sambol, is super easy to make and can be served with just about every Sri Lankan meal, be it rice and curry, or an accompaniment to rotis, hoppers and string hoppers. It pairs best with a warm and mild dhal curry.
Try our easy recipe below – all ingredients are easily available anywhere in the world
· 200g fresh coconut scrapped from the nut, then thoroughly grate to a fine heap
· 5 small shallots roughly sliced
· 1 small green chili, sliced finely
· 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
· 2 tsp crushed red chilis powder
· ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp sugar, 5-6 peppercorns
· Juice of 1 medium lime
· Chili powder (optional depending on heat level you want)
Place the shallots, green chili, crushed red chilies and peppercorns into a mortar and use a pestle to pound the mixture into a thick paste.
Add the grated coconut (if fresh coconut is not possible, use desiccated coconut and add a few tablespoons of hot water to make it moist) and continue to pound until all of the coconut has taken on an orange-y/red colour – if you like your food extra hot, then you can add the chili powder, and it also adds a deeper red hue.
Squeeze in the lime juice, and add the salt and sugar. The consistency should not be too dry.