Coconut sambol

I’ve been telling you all about our trip to Sri Lanka and I think it’s about time we got talking about food!


Coconuts are everywhere you turn in Sri Lanka and there’s nothing better in the heat and humidity than stopping at a coconut stall and drinking the fresh coconut water. It makes sense then that coconut features so much in Sri Lankan cooking.


Coconut sambol, or pol sambol, is a condiment made with grated coconut, chilli, and lime, and it’s served just about everywhere.


Sri Lankan people make coconut sambol using a grinding stone – man I would love to have one of these as a centrepiece in my kitchen! They’re absolutely stunning and unsurprisingly effective! It’s perfectly fine to use a pestle and mortar though, it just takes a little longer. I wouldn’t make this in a blender as you want to be squeezing the flavour out of the ingredients and working them together, not blitzing them into smithereens.


The spicy zinginess of coconut sambol is great with curry and rice, but it works just as well on its own with some roti.



Feel free to adjust the amounts to your taste!

  • 1/2 fresh coconut
  • 2-3 small red chillies
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Pinch salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 clove garlic


  1. Grate the coconut into a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a pestle and mortar, grind together the chillies, shallots, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir in the coconut until well combined.
  4. Squeeze over the lime juice.

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