Sri Lankan Coconut Sambol

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Last Updated on December 14, 2020 by Chef Mireille

Sri Lankan Coconut SambolSri Lankan Coconut Sambol – This coconut chile condiment from Sri Lanka can be added to anything for additional flavor. Add it to anything from salads to rice.

Chutney in India, Sambal in Indonesia and Malaysia or Sambol in Sri Lanka can be any variety of wet or semi-dry condiments used to add flavor and a little spice to foods. They can be made from any variety of ingredients including fruits, vegetables, spices and meat innards (usually gizards, liver, etc.). There is often great similarity in sambol/sambal/chutney across countries. This sambol reminded me so much of the Dried Shrimp Chutney from Karnataka I did here. Dried fish or shrimp is often added to sambol’s to add a salty, smoky flavor to them. Maldive fish is the most common addition used in Sri Lanka. I used these fried sprats I picked up at a local Sri Lankan market – any small dried fish can be substituted.

Fried Sprats

Sambol 3 -edit

There are certain traditional processes that just can’t be replaced by using modern appliances. The slow and steady pounding releases the natural juices much differently then the ingredients whirring about in a food processor for a few seconds.

I saw this when I made fresh sambal in a cooking class I took in Malaysia. The mortar and pestle bowl got passed around from person to person as each ones’ arm would feel like it was about to fall off making enough sambal for the entire class. As we were pounding the chillies, we would constantly ask the instructor “Can we add the coconut now?” and she would say “No, not yet”. You would think we just won the lottery when she FINALLY said ok it was time to add the coconut. Then more pounding ensued. We thought the work was done and then it started again when we had to pound roasted coconut until it turned into a liquid form resembling chocolate for the rending. Although it may seem like I am complaining here, it’s all a big tongue in cheek as the cooking class was one of the best days I had in Malaysia. It was so much fun. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Penang. I highly recommend Nazlima’s Cooking Class and take the full day with the market tour. I guarantee you will get to see and taste so much amazing produce and foods!

If you’d like to get some more ideas for chuntey/sambol to add flavor to your foods, check these out!

Chutney/Sambal Recipes

This condiment can be served as a condiment to everything from fried foods to rice and curry.

Sambol 1 -edit

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Sri Lankan Coconut Sambol

a spicy coconut condiment to compliment any food.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Sri Lankan
Servings: 4


  • 1 tablespoons Maldive fish
  • 2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated shallot or chopped
  • ½ cup frozen grated coconut defrosted (or freshly grated coconut)


  • In a mortar and pestle, pound fish, chili flakes, salt and sugar until well pounded and fish is quite ground.
  • Add shallot and pound until they soften.
  • Add coconut and pound until the coconut starts to release liquid. Keep on pounding for 5 minutes or more, depending on how wet you prefer your sambol.


More shallots/onions are usually used but mine was adapted due to personal preference.
Did you try this recipe? Leave a comment below.Please follow me on Instagram @chefmireille or tag me #chefmireille with your pics! I'd love to share them!


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Reader Interactions


  1. Cooking classes are so fun, right! I would love to attend one when on a tour, but my folks won’t find that interesting! We still use motor and pestle / grinding stone to make chutney.The taste is so good and a lot tastier than the ones ground in a mixie.

  2. I agree with you on some appliances can never replace old processes. Chutneys we make nowadays don’t taste as good as the ones when we were growing up, which were ground in mortar pestle.

  3. Just the other day, my husband was explaining to my kids about how his mom used to make chutneys in the mortar and pestle. The kids these days don’t realize the comforts they have 🙂

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