Condiment/Spread

Chiles and Coconut Pack a Punch in this Addictive Sri Lankan Condiment

February 15, 2018

Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature. Today, longtime Food52er QueenSashy brings us an addictive condiment that you'll want to build meals around.


If you think that the spiciest cuisine in the world is in Mexico, you are wrong—you are very, very wrong. It is Sri Lanka, the tiny island at the southern tip of India, that takes the first prize.

And when I crave Sri Lankan food, it is not the curries I desire; it is pol sambol. Sambols are garnishes, the condiments to the meal. Pol (coconut) sambol is a garnish made with freshly shredded coconut, chopped red onions, a squeeze of lime juice, chilies, and salt, mixed together in perfect harmony.

Photo by Julia Gartland

Pol sambol is the most Sri Lankan of all Sri Lankan dishes. The way we Westerners feel about ketchup, well, pol sambol brings about the very same warm and fuzzy feeling among the Sri Lankan folk. One can get seriously addicted to pol sambol. I am. It is on my list of top ten dishes of all time.

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The key ingredient in Sri Lankan cuisine is fresh coconut, which presents one of the greatest challenges for Westerners making an attempt at Sri Lankan cooking. Coconuts can be tricky to source in western supermarkets. And even when the cook is fortunate enough to get hold of one, the cook faces close to insurmountable obstacles in opening it up. I did, however, come up with a little trick to address the fresh coconut problem, so let’s proceed to the recipe and you will find out…

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Aleksandra aka QueenSashy is a scientist by day, and cook, photographer and doodler by night. When she is not writing code and formulas, she blogs about food, life and everything in between on her blog, Three Little Halves. Three Little Halves was nominated for 2015 James Beard Awards and the finalist for 2014 Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. Aleksandra lives in New York City with her other two halves, Miss Pain and Dr. V.

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Kelly B. February 17, 2018
is there a way that you already know when someone gets your newsletter so that the annoying offer doesn't pop up every single time?