Pol Sambol

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50 grams freshly shredded coconut
2 teaspoons red chilli pepper powder
1 teaspoon Maldive fish flakes
25 grams onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1-1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice


Grind all ingredients together.
A typical serving tends to be around a teaspoon to a tablespoon or two of the pol sambol.
Freshly shredded coconut really makes a huge difference. It won’t taste anywhere near as good if it’s made with desiccated. But if you go the desiccated coconut route, make sure you get unsweetened and you rehydrate it first with hot water, coconut milk, cows milk, or something equivalent.
Maldive fish flakes are dried flakes of tuna made in the Maldives, usually available at Asian markets. If you can’t get it, try dried shrimp, an equal amount – I’ve heard it’s a reasonable substitute, but I haven’t tried it myself.
If you don’t have red chilli pepper powder, usually available in Asian markets or the Asian sections of grocery stores, you can either grind red chilli pepper flakes into powder, or substitute cayenne.
If you don’t handle spicy foods well, reduce the amount of red chilli pepper powder. The coconut tames the spiciness down, but I’m so immune to spiciness that I have no idea what is an appropriate level for a typical person.
My mother in law uses her grinding stone to grind the pol sambol. I don’t – it’s too hard on my joints, so I use my whir-whir, the small cup. If you have a blender or food processor or something equivalent, you can use that instead.
Some restaurants here cook their pol sambol. Yes, it means the pol sambol doesn’t go bad as quickly – freshly shredded coconut can go rancid very quickly, so serve immediately – but fried pol sambol tastes inferior. Noticeably inferior.
Pol sambol is typically served with coconut roti, string hoppers, hoppers, or egg hoppers, but can also be eaten with rice and curries. Personally, I love the stuff so much I’ll eat it with just about anything!
Let me know what you think if you make this/give it a try. I’d love to hear your reactions!

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