This delicious Sri Lankan carrot Salad/Sambola is a must-try even if you love salads or not. Carrots have this very subtle natural sweetness. When you combine that with zesty lime juice, creamy grated coconut, some onions for the extra crunch, and that little kick from the green chili and black pepper, you got this wonderful salad that is full of flavor. Need to make it extra special? Add some Maldive fish flakes for some umami. A perfect salad with perfectly balanced flavors.
Ingredients and important info
This recipe is one of the easiest and most versatile recipes you’d find. All you need is a bunch of common ingredients that you can find anywhere. I usually make this salad with Maldive fish flakes (a very common ingredient in Sri Lanka but very tricky to find in many other countries). But to keep this salad vegan, I’m skipping Maldive fish flakes this time. For those who can find it, add ½ tsp Maldive fish flakes for 1 cup of julienned/shredded carrot.
I highly recommend julienning carrots rather than shredding. Julienned carrots hold their shape and crunch the better. And don’t lose too much liquid and become mushy quickly when you add salt to it. But if you’re making a big batch then shredding carrots works fine too. Just be sure to add your salt just before you serve them.
For this salad, shredded coconut has to be freshly grated. Thawed frozen coconut works too. I really don’t recommend using dedicated coconut as they are very much lack coconut milk and coconut flavor. Which adds creaminess to the curry and is absolutely necessary. But if you’re out of options here’s a good way to use desiccated coconut in the recipe. Add a little bit of thick coconut milk to desiccated coconut, mix well, and then microwave for about 20 – 30 seconds to make them rehydrated.
In Sri Lanka, we use Asian shallots (they’re just shallots when you live in Asia though haha) which are like little pearl onions that are light pink in color. They’re not as big as the shallots I get now in America. Use any shallots if you have them. Otherwise use sliced red onion, which is what I use here.
Adding some greens to the salad
The most common Sri Lankan carrot salad/sambola doesn’t consist of any greens. But there are some variations to this dish where you add greens to the dish to make it a little different or to make it more healthy. My mom does this very often and my favorite green to add is finely chopped/sliced Gotukola (pennywort/ Centella asiatica). Another very common green in Sri Lanka. But very tricky to find them in western countries. So the second-best option for me is curly parsley. Finely chop them and add to the salad as much or as little as you want. But keep in mind, if you add too much, parsley can be overpowering.
Serving ideas with carrot sambola/salad:
Goes very well with Sri Lankan style rice and curries. My favorite menu with this Sri Lankan carrot salad/sambola is, rice, red lentil curry, and meat or fish curry together. If you’re going to have just the salad then this is enough for one person. Otherwise, this is enough for 2 – 3 people.
Here are some products I use (Amazon affiliated links)
Sri Lankan Carrot Salad/Sambola
This delicious Sri Lankan carrot Salad/ Sambola is a must-try even if you love salads or not. Carrots have this very subtle natural sweetness. When you combine that with zesty lime juice, creamy grated coconut, some onions for the extra crunch, and that little kick from the green chili and black pepper, you got this wonderful salad that is full of flavor. Need to make it extra special? Add some Maldive fish flakes for some umami. A perfect salad with perfectly balanced flavors.
Peel and Julienne the carrots. They should look like small matchsticks in size. (If it’s a big batch, you can also shred them as well). Put that into a bowl.
Add everything else into the carrot bowl. (You can leave it like this and mix it when you're ready to eat)
mix well with your hands while slightly crushing them all together. You can just mix with a spoon too. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and lime. (mix salt later if you’re going to serve the salad later).