Though I thoroughly enjoyed just about all the Sri Lankan food I tasted on my visit, I developed an unstoppable addiction to something known as pol sambol.
Sri Lankan pol sambol is a shredded coconut garnish that includes just a few simple ingredients mixed together into perfect harmony.
Grandma, who cooked the best curry in the world, would prepare pol sambol each morning for breakfast, fueling my addiction!
With fresh ingredients, it’s easy to make – so easy in fact that I decided to jot down this recipe so you can make it yourself.
Sri Lankan Pol Sambol Recipe
- 300 grams of fresh shredded coconut (mature firm coconut that’s used to make coconut milk, not the young soft coconuts)
- Around 2 – 4 spoons of chili powder
- Around 1/2 spoon of salt
- 5 – 10 cloves of raw garlic
- 1 – 2 small red onion
- 2 limes
Six ingredients, that’s it!
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Just remember, these are just suggested amounts, you may need more or less of any of the ingredients, start off using less and do a lot of taste testing until it tastes right to you. You are the judge.
Being in Thailand at the time, I did cheat and buy pre-shredded coconut, instead of having to shred my own. However, you can also get a whole coconut and shred it yourself.
Shred the coconut, mince the garlic, mince the onion and toss it all into a mixing bowl.
Add salt and chili powder, and finally squeeze in the juice from 1 lime first (more later).
Start mixing the pol sambol with the tips of your fingers – work it like you’re massaging someone’s shoulder. Begin to twist and lightly squeeze until all ingredients are equally coating the coconut (see video below).
At this point the pol sambol should be orange in color.
Taste it. More salt, chili, or lime juice? Add more.
Mix it again. Taste the pol sambol again.
Sri Lankan pol sambol should be a little bit spicy, sour (but not overpowering) from the lime juice, and salty to suit your own taste.
While I was in Sri Lanka I often enjoyed pol sambol along with roti paratha bread or as a side with a rice and curry feast. But pol sambol is so good, it’s even delicious scooped up with little bites of bread.
Lastly, here’s the video including the recipe that we just covered, and a little adventure to go with it: