curry leaves

i’m very familiar with my dad’s green chili sambol; he’s been making it for decades. he may have been making curry leaf sambol for as long too, but i only tried it about a month ago. he brought it over to my place on the same day that i was having some friends over for dinner. i tried it and it was delicious, very different from the flavour of the green chili sambol, since the raw curry leaf flavour is so pronounced. just the smell of raw curry leaves is pronounced. but the sambol was still really spicy, even if the green chili heat wasn’t the the thing that i noticed first. on the off chance that my guests would be able to handle the heat (i doubted it), i served some as a condiment with our meal. they ate it all. they asked about it several times. i think it became the star of the night, actually, this raw, 5-minute sambol.

scraped coconut, shallot, pepper, mustard powder, salt, ginger, garlic

curry leaf sambol (karapincha sambol)

i wasn’t really surprised. my dad calls certain foods, like sambols, “rice-pullers”, meaning that you can eat only that and rice, and you will keep piling on the rice because you want to keep eating the sambol. quite frankly, the heat is the only thing that keeps me from eating this sambol on its own by the tablespoon.

curry leaf sambol (karapincha sambol)

note: fresh coconut works best in this recipe, but fresh, frozen, coconut found in many south-asian grocery stores works well also. just thaw it and squeeze out excess liquid. if you cannot get either, you can use unsweetened, desiccated or dehydrated coconut, re-hydrated with just a little water and oil to moisten it–it should not be to wet or watery.

fresh curry leaves are always available in south-asian grocery stores and at some larger markets and mass-market grocery stores too.

1 fresh green chili, stemmed and chopped
1 small shallot, peeled and sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1/4 inch of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs white vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 cup fresh curry leaves
1 cup scraped coconut (or desiccated/dehydrated coconut or frozen, scraped coconut–see head note)

into the bowl of your food processor add the green chili, shallot, garlic, ginger, mustard powder, pepper, salt, vinegar, and a 1 tbs of  the water. blend until combined. wipe down the sides of the bowl, add the curry leaves and another tbs of water and blend again. wipe down the sides once again, add the coconut and continue to blend until completely combined. wipe down the sides and add the remaining water, one tbs at a time as needed, until you’re left with a well combined, slightly moist but not wet sambol; you should not create a paste. when you can pack it into a spoon but still still be able to fluff it up with a fork you have the right consistency. serve as a condiment with fried foods or with rice and curry. it will keep in the fridge for about a week, but it freezes very well too.

makes 1 cup.