Skip to Content

Coconut Sambol

Sharing is caring!

Coconut Sambol

coconut, chilli and onion chutney

This coconut sambol is so good. I like it with hoppers.


I can honestly say that I didn’t have one bad meal during my recent visit to Sri Lanka. I learned so much about the country, its people and their food in a short period of time.

As a guest of fantastic luxury hotel chain Cinnamon Hotels, I was shown so much that I couldn’t wait to tell you all about t all.

One afternoon, I was invited with my new food blogger friends Roxanne Bamboat (The Tiny Taster) and Sarah Britton to go to a local village to observe the cooks prepare the most incredible vegetarian feast.

They worked in a communal open kitchen made of clay and straw. It was amazing to see what these women could do with the most basic tools.

One of the cooks made this coconut, chilli and onion sambol. I had already tried similar chutneys (sambols) a few times while in Sri Lanka but it was fascinating to watch it being made as they have for hundreds of years.

They ground and mixed the ingredients so meticulously. It just seemed to magically come together.

I even got to try my hand at grating a coconut with a sharp but simple tool they used to do the job. It took some doing but I soon got the hang of it. I don’t think I’ll be challenging them to a race though.

My teacher worked that coconut so fast. You can’t see it in the photos but there is a sharp metal object that is attached to the small stool that is used to dig all the meat from the coconut out of the shell.

There was no way I was going to do that quickly as I didn’t want to end up later at the hospital than in the swimming pool enjoying a few cold beers in the hot sun.

By the way, this coconut, chilli and onion sambol goes very well with hoppers. You can check out my recipe for those here.


If you like this recipe try these other recipes for chutneys that also go well with hoppers:

Coriander & Coconut Chutney
Tomato Chutney
Coriander & Mint Chutney
Coconut, Tomato & Chilli Chutney
Tomato, Onion & Chilli Chutney
Spicy Coriander Chutney
Garlic Chutney

Making coconut, chilli and onion chutney

The traditional way of adding salt. Rock salt is added to water that is then splashed into curries and this chutney.

Making coconut, chilli and onion chutney

To start, chillies were placed on a grinding stone with some of the salt water mixture.

Making coconut, chilli and onion chutney

These were then ground into a smooth paste.

Making coconut, chilli and onion chutney

The coconut and onion were then added.

Making coconut, chilli and onion chutney

Then is was all worded some more.

Making coconut, chilli and onion chutney

And some more!

Making coconut, chilli and onion chutney

Last but not least, the lime juice.

grinding coconut

Scooping out a coconut by the professional.

Grinding coconut for coconut chutney

My ever so slightly slower attempt. I didn’t want to sit on the stool in case I broke it.

Yield: 2 cups

Sri Lankan Coconut, Chilli and Onion Sambol

Sri Lankan Coconut, Chilli and Onion Sambol
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • Shredded meat from one coconut
  • 3 red chilli peppers
  • Salt to taste
  • A slash of water
  • 1 red onion
  • Juice of one or two limes


  1. Using a pestle and mortar or a grinding stone if you have one, start by grinding the chilli, salt and water to a paste.
  2. Add the coconut and onion and keep grinding until you have a chunky, thick paste.
  3. Add lime juice to taste and serve.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Did you like this recipe?

Please join me on Facebook where I share all my latest recipes and videos. Just click that Facebook icon on the left and let's get to know each other!

Disclaimer: I was a guest of Cinnamon Hotels Sri Lanka. My flight, stay, meals, travel and activities were all compliments of Cinnamon Hotels. I loved my stay and highly recommend Cinnamon Hotels if you are travelling to Sri Lanka. You can visit their website here.

I was flown round trip from Heathrow to Colombo courtesy or SriLankan Airlines. What a great airline. Excellent service.



Skip to Recipe

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!