Sri Lankan coconut sambol

Pol sambol, or coconut sambol, is a delicious coconut relish, or chutney, that is eaten with Sri Lankan rice, string hoppers, or hoppers. I couldn’t get enough of it when I visited Sri Lanka a couple years ago.

It’s typically made with Maldive fish, but this is a vegetarian version, so I omitted it. I used a mortar and pestle, but you can use a food processor if you prefer.


  • 3 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup frozen shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste (optional)
  1. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the onion, chili powder, salt, and sugar together.
  2. Slowly start to incorporate the coconut and continue pounding. Mixture should be a light red-orange.
  3. Incorporate ginger and garlic, if using.
  4. Season with lime juice and more salt as needed.

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