A fiery, sweet, sour and spicy onion relish, Sri Lankan seeni sambol is something you’ll find on just about every Sri Lankan table, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner time.
It’s no surprise that Sri Lankan’s love vegetarian dishes. The fertile island paradise is blessed with an arsenal of incredible vegetables, fruit and heady spices. Veggie curries, dahls and rice are all everyday staples, and generally come accompanied by roti style breads and papadums. Spices are also used with wanton abandon. So much so that on my recent Sri Lankan foodie adventures I was warned by restaurant after restaurant to order western versions of the local food. Of course, with my signature asbestos-tongued fearlessness I ignored that advice and spent the next week ordering every dish at the same blow-your-face-off level of spicy that the locals do, leaving my local hosts impressed and my tastebuds happily tingling.
Indeed, so enamoured was I of the spice laden dishes, I took the heat higher at every opportunity with massive dollops of the chilli-laden sambols and chutneys that accompany every meal.
But it was the addictively sweet and spicy Sri Lankan seeni sambol that was the one to followed me home, in recipe form at least. In Sri Lanka, seeni sambol is made both with and without Maldive fish (a dried tuna fish that adds an umami flavour a little like shrimp paste) but for our vegetarian version we skip the fish.
The kids and I make a big batch regularly, which we use as an accompanied to our favourite breakfast of Sri Lankan Egg Hoppers, as well as with scrambled eggs, as an accompaniment to rice and curries and as a toasted sandwich filling. I’ve even sprung spice-obsessed Raffles, sneaking spoonfuls of our version of Sri Lankan seeni sambol straight from the jar. Enjoy.