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Sri Lankan Style Coconut Sambol

I love Sri Lankan coconut sambol with a passion and can eat it by the spoonful. When I returned from a holiday in Sri Lanka this January, I tried to make an authentic sambol to accompany some egg hoppers I made for breakfast.

But fresh coconut is difficult to find, and even more difficult to finely grate, even with a food processor, and by hand it is laborious. So I came up with the idea of using desiccated coconut and rehydrating it with coconut milk. The result was surprisingly good - tasting really fresh - and so much quicker to make. However, some coconut milks, especially if they are organic and additive free (i.e. free of gums and stabilisers), separate in the tin, so I always gently heat the coconut milk first to incorporate the fatty content with the thin milk.

Authentic coconut sambol uses pounded Maldive fish, a cured tuna, which is difficult to find in this country, so I substituted quality Vietnamese fish sauce - a fermented sauce made from anchovy. It is not quite the same, but I think the resulting sambol is equally as delicious and a truly great substitute.

Serve this with any coconut based curry. It is especially good with my Tomato and Tuna curry, as well as Sri Lankan string or egg hoppers.

Curry leaves are essential to Sri Lankan cooking, and I buy mine from a supplier on eBay, but in London and other large centres you can find them in Sainsbury's or in ethnic food stores.


Serves 6 (with a variety of curries)

100 g organic desiccated coconut

100 ml organic coconut milk

1 tbs fresh curry leaves finely sliced

3 large organic red chillis roughly chopped

1 small organic red onion finely chopped

1 tbs Vietnamese fish sauce (Nuoc Cham)

1/2 tsp salt

juice and zest of one organic lime

** 1 cup Healing Intent

1. Place the desiccated coconut and coconut milk in a bowl and stir well to combine.

2. Mix in the curry leaves and onion into the coconut mixture.

3. Place the salt and chopped red chillis in a pestle and mortar and finely pound until the chillis form a paste.

4. Stir the chilli paste into the coconut mixture and add 1 tbs Nuoc Cham (adding a little more to taste), and the juice and zest of one lime. Adjust seasoning and serve.


** Healing Intent: when cooking foods to heal the body it is important to set your intent. The best way to do this is imagine that you are cooking this dish for yourself or for someone you love who is very ill and that this dish is the only thing that will help in their healing. You will find that the way you handle the food will change, and will not only result in a better dish, but you will feel the food actually nourishing your body and spirit.

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