Last year, I worked in Melbourne on a few occasions. A colleague, whose family is from Sri Lanka, used to take me to her favourite Sri Lankan curry place near the office. It was a hole-in-the-wall joint with a very small daily selection of curries. After heaping the plate with curries, rice and papadums, the owner would ask, ‘sambal?’, and I would say, ‘yes please!!’.
The sambal was chunky with shredded fresh coconut and vibrant red with lots of chillies. It was very spicy, tempered with a touch of something that was just beyond words. I always mopped up the last of the curry and sambal with rice.
Yesterday, musing on that sambal, I bought a cylinder of coconut sugar (don’t ask). Coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm flower buds. It is also known as ‘coconut palm sugar’, but is different from ‘palm sugar’ made from the sap of various types of palm trees.