Oy. I finally started a blog, I finally get my act together and then my digital camera broke. It was all my fault. I dropped it when on vacation in Greece! On our second day! Luckily disposable cameras came to the rescue. I still don’t have a camera; I’m waiting to get an iphone. These shots are courtesy of my father’s camera (thank you appachchi!)

I thought I should inaugurate this site with the recipe for which it is named. Pol Sambol (coconut sambol) is a classic Sri Lankan dish, a big big favorite, combining the heat of chilies, the sweet delicateness of fresh ground coconut and the tartness of lime. Yum.


approx. 2 cups fresh ground coconut (see note below)

chili powder

lime juice



curry leaves (carapincha)

1 minced shallot

optional: maldive fish (umbalacuda)


In a bowl, combine your fresh grated coconut, and add enough chili powder and mix it with your hands or a spoon until it gets a nice bright orange color. This is meant to be a spicy dish, eaten to complement rice and curry or rotis, so it can take a lot of heat. But whatever; add as much as you are comfortable with. We even make white pol sambol or green pol sambol (with green chilies!) so there is no steadfast rule. If you want color, but not heat, use some paprika as well.

Mix in salt, pepper, curry leaves and minced shallot. Taste and make sure it has enough salt/heat. If you are using maldive fish, add it as well. Then add lime juice. its supposed to have a nice kick, like when you make guacamole — that acidity? same thing here. Use plenty.

Done! Finito! You can eat it as part of a meal – of rice, curry, or roti or hoppers (appa) [recipes for these things will follow] or, as my father does, you can eat it with nice bread, slathered with butter. the butter makes the pol sambol stick to the bread, and voila, a Sri Lankan snack. I do it too. And then I have a cup of tea.

NOTE: you can use dessicated coconut flakes – just reconstitute them with hot water. If they have frozen grated coconut, that’s cool, too. But fresh is best – since this is a fresh dish. do not be afraid of the coconut! I buy one that is heavy for its size, has liquid in it when I shake it, I poke its eyes and see if there is nice white coconut within. then I whack it with a hammer along its circumference until it splits in half and then pry out the white coconut flesh with a knife. Then I put it in the food processor until it becomes that nice grated consistency. I also have a coconut grater, but unless you find it in an south asian grocery store, the food processor method is a hit. its labor intensive, yes, but do it at once, keep extra in the freezer and you’re ready to go later on. I should post a video on this – its hilarious the way I open the coconuts. (its like cracking someone’s head open, so I often go “eee!” as I open them).