Rice and curry is Sri Lanka's national dish, and an essential part of a curry banquet is a range of sambals and other accompaniments. 




Skill level

Average: 3.3 (288 votes)


  • 240 g (2 cups) freshly grated coconut or
  • 180 g (2 cups) desiccated coconut, plus
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 Asian red eschalot (see Note), finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp ground chilli
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp Maldive fish (see Note)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Using a mortar and pestle, grind all the ingredients with ½ tsp salt until combined. Alternatively, use a food processor.



• Asian red eschalots are available from select greengrocers and Asian food shops.

• Maldive fish are dried fish flakes, available from Sri Lankan and select Indian food shops. Grind bigger pieces with a mortar and pestle.


Serve with Sri Lankan egg curry and ala thel dala (devilled potatoes)

Photography Brett Stevens