Well, today recipe is really hot! It is katta sambola recipe or our own Sri Lankan chili paste recipe which any Sri Lankan would like to taste. But, if you are not a Sri Lankan, I want to warn you. Katta Sambola is really hot! It will make you red and sweat! But it is tasty too! 🙂

In Sri Lanka we eat lot of chili. We use red chili or green chili in our cooking. It is not a little bit. It is a lot! We, Sri Lankans love to eat curries when it appears in red/brownish colour. The secret for this appearance is red chili. We also use chili pastes or sambola as sides or condiments for extra chili. But, we Sri Lankans never regret of having lot of chili although it is not a healthy habit.

Basically, I don’t use much chili in my food preparation. If you check some of my recipes, I usually indicate 1 tea spoon of chily powder or 2-3 green chilies. But, the taste of my cooking is less hot when I compare to dishes we eat in Sri Lanka.

Anyway, that is all about chili and how we Sri Lankans use chili in recipes. Now, let’s talk about katta sambola. Katta sambola is a kind of Chili paste which is in Sri Lankan cuisine. There are many meal combinations which katta sambol can give extra flavours to our Sri Lankan meal. Rice, kiri hodi and katta sambola is a popular Sri Lankan breakfast. You can also try Sri Lankan hoppers with katta sambola. Dont forget Kiri Bath. (Milk Rice)

Milk rice is delicious when you eat it with katta sambola. Some, they eat kiribath with seeni sambola which is another sort of onion sambol from Sri Lanka. However, traditionally kiribath pairs with katta sambola in Sri Lankan cuisine. I also heard that you can avoid sleepy feelings when you eat kiribath with katta sambola.(usually kiribath will make you sleepy and lazy due to coconut in it)

Katta Sambola (Sri Lankan Chili Paste)

Katta Sambola (Sri Lankan Chili Paste)

If you are a Sri Lankan, you probably know how to make katta sambola. However, there are few techniques which you can use to make this dish wonderful!

I am with origin of Southern Sri Lanka, so my recipes and tips are mostly based on Sri Lankan Southern cooking Style. Always those are really spicy and we also cook lot of mild spicy curries with green chilies. I am telling such because I experience the difference in cooking styles in other provinces in terms of using spices, coconut milk and other ingredients.

Anyway, here are some of the tips to prepare delicious and appealing katta sambol dish.(Sri Lankan Chili Paste)

Never use red chili powder

Ah? never use red chili powder? Yes, never use chili powder if you want to have really appealing katta sambol dish! If you don’t believe me, just search for katta sambol in Google and check the images section. Compare the katta sambol images which made with chili powder and chili flakes. Which one attracts you? You will find the answer.

Use dried red chili as it is or use chili flakes.

This is opposite for above. A katta sambol with chili seeds will really give you appealing hot and fiery look which katta sambol should have.

Grind onion, do not use sliced onion

Well, if you don’t have facility to grind onion (if you live in other country), then there is no option, you can use onion cut to small pieces in your katta sambol. Otherwise grind onion using grinding stone or mortar and pestle or electric grinder for better results.

Use umbalakada chips (Maldive fish)

Well, if you are preparing vegetarian dish, don’t use umbalakada. Otherwise adding umbalakada will enhance the flavor. For Sri Lankan dishes, umbalakada is like using MSG, it is a flavor enhancer. However MSG is not healthy, but our Sri Lankan version is natural and no such healthy risk!

But don’t use umbalakada flavours or such which are in the market nowadays which claims to enhance the flavour. Well, at least those are not in my healthy cooking (or at least Sri Lankan true flavouful cooking)

Use fresh lime juice

Well, here in Singapore, I also use ‘naran’ (calamansi) for katta sambol. But whenever possible, use natural lime juice for your katta sambol. Not even lemon juice.

Lime juice will give you really attracting aroma which is of Sri Lankan katta sambol dish!

Did I talk too much today? Well I have some time to write today as my son is still sleeping. 🙂

Finally here is the recipe for Sri Lankan Chili paste.(Sri Lankan Katta Sambol)

Katta Sambola (Sri Lankan Chili Paste)

Katta Sambola (Sri Lankan Chili Paste)

Recipe : Katta Sambola (Sri Lankan Chili Paste)


1 large onion (Bombay onion) or handful of small red onions

2-3 tbsp. of red chili flakes (Alternatively you can use complete dried red chilies with seeds)

1 tbsp. Maldive fish flakes (optional)

1-2 tsp. of lime juice as per taste

Salt as per taste


Remove the skin of onion, wash and cut into pieces.

In grinding stone or in a grinder, grind chili, onion and salt together.

Grind coarsely.

Remove the paste into a dish.

Add lime juice. (Add umbalakada flakes/chips at this point if you use)Mix well and adjust salt. Add more lime juice as per taste.

Katta sambola is ready to serve with any of above mentioned foods or with Sri Lankan pol roti.

If you are a Sri Lanka, please let me know how do you prepare katta sambol? Do you have any tips to add to this preparation? Please comment below.

Note: I use umbalakada flakes/chips which I buy as packets.So I use umbalakada at the time I add lime juice and mix well.I don’t use umbalakada flakes at the time I grind the onion and chili simply to keep the flakes without grinding.So,we like the taste with bites of umbalakada pieces.

If you dont like to feel the umbalakada and like to taste the flavour only,consider adding umbalakada at the time of grinding onions and chilli.

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