7 December, 2019

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Video: Sri Lankan Pol Sambol By Mark Wiens

By Mark Wiens –

Sampling all the delicious Sri Lankan food is one of the joys of visiting the country. Food is not only affordable, but it’s extremely tasty. Many of the ingredients included the glorious coconut in some way or another.

While I ate a lot of food while I was in Sri Lanka, one of my favorite things was simple to make, yet packed with flavor, known as pol sambol. Pol sambol is a garnish made with freshly shredded coconut (the coconuts are not the young sweet coconuts but rather older tough coconut meat that used also to make coconut milk), chopped red onions, cloves of garlic, a squeeze of lime juice, salt and a generous amount of chili powder.

One of the reasons Sri Lankan food recipes can be so difficult to master is because there are not written rules, everyone must just taste test until the dish is perfect (unless of of course you have the motherly touch, which equals perfect culinary perfection).

To make this pol sambol recipe, here are ingredients you’ll need (makes 1 bowl):

200 grams of freshly grated coconut
1 red onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 limes
1/2 spoon of salt
2 spoons of chili powder

This is of course a rough estimate of what you’ll need, you of course need to taste test frequently as mentioned in the video to make sure it tastes exactly the way you want it to.

Finely dice the red onion and garlic and add them into a bowl along with the coconut. Add salt, chili powder and lime juice and begin working the ingredients together with your hands. Keep mixing until the pol sambol turns to an orange color and is even throughout. Make sure you use your hands to mix, it’s much easier and works a lot better!

Make sure it’s slightly sour, salty enough and has a nice little kick from the chili powder.

Pol sambol is a garnish for other Sri Lankan food, but can also be eaten just with a stack of roti’s (paratha breads) or even just a loaf of bread as I demonstrated in the video.

Be careful though, pol sambol is addictive and you’ll want to eat the entire bowl yourself and immediately make more to devour!

Enjoy!

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    There was a Science teacher of French extraction who used to teasingly remind us the only thing Ceylon invented was the Pol Sambole – which used to, predictably, annoy us. The stocky Senator Reggie Perera (LSSP) used to be associated with matters culinary and often referred to this Lankan favourite, eaten with hot rice, as the Prince of local cuisine. Who will dare disagree?

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
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      I love it – but with a thick chunk of crusty bread, and butter on the side — very little butter now, alas). One place that turned out excellent bread and pol sambol in my youth was the tuck shop at the end of Hilda Obeyesekera Hall in Pera campus.

      • 0
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        Hild Obesekara later became a mens’ hall. So, Manel perera is very old.

        • 0
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          Who’s Manel Perera, Jim?
          And when exactly did Hilda become a men’s hall.
          BTW I ws a “campus kid” not an undergrad.
          Still, y’re right, I am “very old”, far too old to hope to see a saner, juster, more equal and loving society come into being in this country.

          • 0
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            Ms. Fonseka, Please dont bother to answer this Topsy-turvy nut case. He is an Angoda Renegade.

        • 0
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          Yes, late 80ties, we were boarded in Hilda obeysekara hall.

      • 0
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        Manel @,

        :)
        Your comment reminded me of our tuck shop of OUR school. To my days at Pera, HO hall ran a cafeteria in which we had our meals regularly. Pol Sambol, Papadam and Dahl (red lentils) curry were served very often by them. Lanken kind of Dahl curries are not uncommon to Indians, Nepalese and Indians. And even some east africans are used to have them for their daily meals.

    • 0
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      This guy forgot a key ingredient. Maldive Fish Chips (Umbalakada).

      Plus you are supposed to grind dried chillies, Maldive Fish Chips & red shallots to mix in later.

      PS: Garlic in the epic “Pol Sambole” must be a regional variation. I have not seen it.

      Nevertheless, he did well. Hats off!

      PS: Off to local Kopi Kade to get a portin myself.

  • 0
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    MArk Wiens:

    Eat warm (fragrant – Samba varieties) rice, Pol Sambol and Ambul thiyal fish curry.

  • 0
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    Even our Diasporians couldn’t do without this Srilankan delicacy when they eat their Indi Appam.

    • 0
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      MR Sekara, FYI,

      Diasporans are not only tamils, there are also sinhalese, muslims and burgher among them. And if you only consider about the refuge folks due to the war and later became citizens of those countries.. 99% of them are tamils.

      • 0
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        Siri, Tru calling him Tsunami Sekera instead of MR Sekera.

  • 0
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    If you are not a vegetarian you could add two teaspoons-full of roughly powdered Maldive Fish and it will further enhance the taste. Try it with a hunk of fresh bread or string hoppers and fish curry.

  • 0
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    Eating Polsambal can give everyone targeted daily intake of coconut fat to keep them healthy. Many on the EU and US – are now believed to recommend consuming coconut fat can help the neuro patients like Parkinson improving their health conditions -this I have read articles on this. Ones who re more interested please read use of coconut fat and healing parkison /Alzheimer any other neurological ailments.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7HBmWturdU

    And about Polsmabal:
    Eating polsambal can cover a considerable portion fibre sort of constituents that doctors ask to include in our meals.

  • 0
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    The country is also a pol sambol.First the nagas,yakshas and devas got mixed with the orissa vagabonds.Then the orissa guys got down pandya women because they got sick of screwing the yaksha women.Then the tamils Sena and Guttika came as horse traders and would have ridden the women here while the sinhalese men ride the horses they brought.Then elara came and tamils would have screwed around some more.Then in the 10th century raja raja chola invaded and annexed the country.To get rid of him the sinhalese kings got into an alliance with the pandyas.Pandyas and cholas screwing away the sinhalese without any birth control at that time.Then in the 17th century keralite maritimers coming and settling as karawe in the south and karayar in the north and preponderence of them in the armed forces.Then salagama brought down from kerala to peel cinnamon and durawe also from kerala to tap toddy.While all this is happening we are slap bang first port of call on the main trade route and every tom dick and harry comes and screws and goes off while some such as the muslims do the correct thing and marry the women.Before the first century even iranians such as the kambojas had migrated to srilanka.

    In the 14th century the jaffna kingdom was established by Magha from kalingha,present day orissa.He was the first arya chakaravarthi and brought soldiers from kalingha as well as andrapradesh and tamilnadu as he made his way not by ship as Vijaya did,but by foot overland through these areas collecting mercenaries along the way.

    Then three hundred years of colonial rule where they never brought their women here.Surely they were not wanking away.

    What a pol sambol.How many ingredients?

    • 0
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      Fascinating insight into our yummy peasant dish which goes well with anything.

      How did Shanker miss the most important ingredients, God Murrukan worshinig Sinhala veddas and Tamil Vaedars, especially when Native Vedda, a direct descendent of the latter is a prolific contributor to this “Pol Sambol”

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        Sumane,i did not forget the veddhas.They are the descendents of the original inhabitants ,the yakshas(forest people)as opposed to the nagas(coastal people).Mahawamsa states that kuveni’s children by vijaya started the veddha people.How true is the mahawamsa we don’t know really know because it was not a diary,but written much later,however kuveni was a yaksha according to it and vijaya seems to be the first ingredient in the polsambol.

        As for lord murugan,the veddhas worship him in kataragama,because he is said to have married valli who was a veddha.

        • 0
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          My take is Yakshas were people who were exactly as same as the Australian native Aboriginal people.

          These full blooded were still around when Mahavamsa editors arrived and called them Yakshyas , purely because of their facial features.

          Yakshas mean Yakkas as our recent Western invaders and their descendents used to call the natives,or Monsters as our kids in the West call them, and even our Sinhalese still portray them as the baddies with black faces in their Devil dancing.

          • 0
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            K.A Sumanasekera

            “My take is Yakshas were people who were exactly as same as the Australian native Aboriginal people.”

            When you have no knowledge of Cantonese please refrain from talking to a Chinese in Sinhalese.

            Yaksha,or Yaksa, and yakṣī or yakṣinī are part of Sanskrit/Pali mythology. Mahanama and others plagiarised these words from North Indian traditions and stealthily introduced into their own myth as if these were historical facts.

            The sad part of this tragic comedy is that Sinhala/Buddhist are so naive and stupid, have bought the story and are willing to fight,grab land and die for it.

            Get a life K.A Sumanasekera instead of peddling in matters that you know next to nothing.

            • 0
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              Dear Native,

              …Sanskrit/ Pali Mythology…….

              It all sounds Greek to me!!!!

              I thought you are a Lord Murukkan worshipper.

            • 0
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              sumane,now you are not letting them worship too.Recently a kapurala/priest of a temple in kataragama was hacked to death.Lord Muruga asked for only the veddhas to worship him because he did not like the behaviour of tamils and sinhalese.Also his consort was a veddha girl called valli from kataragama.So only veddha priests called kapuralas are allowed to do the poojas and they do it silently tying their mouths with cloth,without reciting the traditional sanskrit versus of the brahmin priests.Lord muruga was quite right to think something was wrong with the tamils and sinhalese,from what we have seen of the beastly bhaviour after independence.

              I don’t know what is wrong with your bhuddhist extremists who seem to have got out of control nowadays due to political patronage by the Rajapakshes.If they are going to even take on Lord Muruga,then i foresee a lot of grief for your people with natural disasters,economic problems etc in the future.

              Let the gods be in peace at least even if it is in your genes not to allow fellow humans to live in peace and harmony.

            • 0
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              K.A Sumanasekera

              Did you recently kill our Siva worshiping Veddah Kapurala in Kataragama. Why did you do it?

              A poosaari is filthy rich according to your earlier comments.

              Circumstantial evidence and your own earlier comments point to your involvement.

              Do you deny it?

              If you were not involved who was it?

  • 0
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    Native,

    From what I gather, the Kapurala at Sella-Kadirgamam was engaged in one more regular nocturnal binge after which one of his fellow Bacchusians, presumably in an inebriated condition, did him in. This is not the first killing/murder in the sacred soil of Kadirgamam. Not long ago, they stabbed to death the North Indian Brahmin priest officiating in the Hindu Kovil (run by the RSS) located next to the main Devale – now run in Sinhala style. This was clearly as a result of a continuing land dispute in which the Indiah High Commission also was reported to have shown keen interest.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    Dear Native,

    We should thank our stars that the deceased didn’t have a name like Sivalingam or Sivajilingam.

    If it was, we would be eating a good serve of Parripu from your IC now.

  • 0
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    Pol Sambol is a delicacy with a wide range health benefits. Once I went to a leading club for breakfast and ordered toast. When they served toast without Marmalade, I asked for Marmalade. The response was that toast with Pol Sambol was more popular than with Marmalade. Kade Pan or Roast Pan with Pol Sambol are other popular orders for breakfast. If you go to the Dutch Hospital in Fort, try the Roast Pan with Pol Sambol Etc at the Hapo’s cafe.

    Pol Sambol as well as all fresh coconut based food, including virgin coconut oil, has immense health benefits. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine, that it is called “The Tree of Life.” Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut’s amazing healing powers. For further information Ref. http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/

    Manel, the boys of Marrs, Jayatillake & Wijewardane Halls missed you, when you entered Hilda Obeysekera Hall.

    • 0
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      Had u said:
      “If you go to the Dutch Museum in the Pettah”
      I might have said:
      “Meet you there…..let’s see how cruel time has been to us…
      & who the hell ARE u, anyway!”

      Must be one of those tormentors who made walking past men’s halls in the campus those days, absolute agony for any female between the age of 8 and 80!

      Actually I entered Hilda “from the back door” so to speak. I’ll leave you to work that one out.

      That was also the time we could just take a few steps from our front door to spend a balmy evening, in a sunken garden, with trees all around us, at an open air production by Sarathchandra.
      Halcyon days, indeed!

      One of many memories I have of the Dutch Hospital before its present avatar, was being arrested inside by a drunken cop in sarong, who sent me with a properly attired one, clutching his rifle (to stop me running away, i spose) to the 4th Floor – yes, the CID!
      Where, believe it or not, the OIC I was asked to sit down in front of, was also drunk! that was in the mid/late 1980s.

      I prefer to avoid the DH now except when it is closed… I hate the tables in the courtyard and the large granite flagstones. And its tarting up stops just around the corner…go and have a look some time.

      And before someone asks what’s all this got to do with POL SAMBOL, let me take this opportunity to say that I dont think we should be having electrically powered fountains playing all day either, in a country where we are asked to CONSERVE POWER! True, it looks pretty — tho I wd have preferred to keep the trees & other vegetation, swept away to provide for underground systems & stone steps & expensive to run fountains. Seeing them “keep their ends up” in the pouring rain the other day, really made them look absurd. I would have voted – had we rate payers been consulted at all – for keeping the trees instead, & ensuring decent, SAFE, PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS crossings at all these roundabouts. But I spose we are still a people concerned more with appearance than reality… let visitors to the country have pretty things to SEE, while the millions who have to walk & ride about it, get run over regularly or fall off their buses.

      After all that achcharu, better get back to pol sambol…really feel the need for some now!

      • 0
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        I am a Kandy boy and my sisters studied with you at Girls High, but I have never met you at one of the Kandy School gatherings.

        In the campus we were fortunate to get some pretty girls in to our neighbourhood when the authorities allowed external students to Peradeniya. Yes, Peradeniya was good with the open air theatre having low walls to give us the thrill of jumping over the wall to watch the plays and plenty of opportunities to break the rules!

        The open air courtyard in DH is a lively place, often with a cool breeze and I prefer the low cost roast pan with Pol Sambol to the high cost crabs.

  • 0
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    How nice to see- it is typical to lanken – specially if one would look at the issues of the country today being out of the island…

    The country is burning – people are interested in talking about the taste of pol sambol.

    If issues related to security for the people – if articles are added to CT, but the number of comments to add those articles indicate – majority folks don’t care about the their security, even if they are assaulted, abducted or killed by gun shots on broad day light..

    As I have seen it, they entire nation has become ” POLSAMABL” to this day…

    Shame on our nation – :(

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