Coconut sambol is a spicy Sri Lankan side dish that goes with any curry or spicy dish. In my vegan version of coconut sambol I’ve used seaweed flakes instead of the traditional Maldive fish.
Just over 10 years ago, way back in 2008, my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Sri Lanka. I totally fell in love with the island with its beautiful people, places and food. I can’t wait to go back one day – perhaps we’ll take our children along. They would love the beaches and I would love to show them the places we went for our honeymoon.
We travelled around the island and stayed in some very special places sharing experiences like eating pineapple curry by candlelight on a private beach at night, taking long mountain walks with a picnic to sustain us, pulling up in a jeep at a roadside stand to enjoy freshly cooked hoppers and tucking into local short eats (snacks) at a bus station. Sri Lankan cuisine is really unique and not at all like anything else I’ve tried.
In many ways it’s similar to south Indian food but there are many things that I’ve never seen anywhere else – such as kottu roti and string hoppers. There’s a shop in Tooting, in south London, that sells string hoppers and chutney packaged up to take away – it’s the only time I’ve ever seen them outside of Sri Lanka.
What is coconut sambol?
Coconut sambol is ubiquitous in Sri Lanka. It appears alongside most meals. It’s usually made with fish but you can easily leave this out to make it a vegan side dish. I’ve added in some seaweed flakes here, which I find a good way to replicate the taste of the sea without being too fishy. This dish still tastes great without them.
In Sri Lanka this would be made with grated fresh coconut – I’ve used desiccated coconut for ease. By all means use fresh if you prefer.
Vegan coconut sambol
Coconut sambol is a spicy Sri Lankan side dish that goes with any curry or spicy dish. In my vegan version of coconut sambol I've used seaweed flakes instead of the traditional Maldive fish.
- 2 limes juiced
- 1 tbsp red chilli flakes
- 1 small onion chopped
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp seaweed flakes optional
- 100 g desiccated coconut or freshly grated
Blend everything apart from the coconut together in a small food processor or bash into a paste using a pestle and mortar.
Mix in the coconut and serve.