Lifestyle & Arts

The Health Benefits of Pol Sambol

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Natalie Soysa

Natalie Soysa

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If you haven’t eaten Pol Sambol as a staple must in your diet, you’re either not Sri Lankan or you need to crawl out from that rock you’ve been hiding under. Pol Sambol is a truly Sri Lankan experience, in fact, a phenomenon – it makes everything from rice to bread to crackers to roti to string hoppers taste so much better.

Have you stopped to think that there could be more to this delicious side dish than meets the eyes or taste buds? Sri Lankan traditional food is probably some of the most nutritious you’ll find anywhere on the planet. The ancients knew taste combined with health was the way to go. Modern food philosophy claims to be better than any medication out there – eat right and you’ll never find yourself in the waiting rooms of a doctor’s office again. Ironically, this stems from ancient times when medicine men were actually foodies – they used food and herbs to heal you, not chemicals.

Pol Sambol2

But we digress. Back to that red-orange fiery coconut dish we were originally on about. How is it healthy for you? Let’s break it down, ingredient by ingredient –

You start of course by grating the insides of a Coconut. Fresh, juicy coconut comes packed with sodium, potassium, saturated fat. It is also a source of rich fiber that helps your body digest the food you’ve eaten.

Then the chopping begins. While most of use big onions in our cooking, the original recipe calls for small Red Onions; one of the best natural sources of quercetin. Quercetin helps fight free radicals – those nasty things that dull your skin and let the ageing begin to show. Basically red onions help you stay younger! They have also proved to be great ways to battle fungus, bacteria and inflammations.

Chances are you’ll also chop a few cloves of Garlic to this mix – but it’s optional. Don’t hesitate though, garlic comes with very low levels of fat, cholesterol and sodium. What it does come with is calcium, phosphorous, selenium, manganese, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C.

The last thing on your chopping block is probably some Green Chilies. If you’re daring enough – Nai Miris. These young peppers contain high doses of Vitamins A, C & K in addition to giving your sambol a spicy kick.

The key ingredients to make Pol Sambol

The key ingredients to make Pol Sambol

Chopping done, you move on to your powdered spices. First comes an ample dose of Chili Powder to colour your white coconut shavings into a fiery dish. Chilies are Vitamin sources as we mentioned earlier, and the red powder comes packed with A, B and C.

Then comes Pepper Powder to help prevent constipation, diarrhea, earache, gangrene, heart disease, hernia, hoarseness, indigestion, insect bites, joint pain, liver problems, lung disease, oral abscesses, sunburn, tooth decay and even insomnia.

No dish is complete without Salt, an element of deliciousness and health for time immemorial. Salt stabilizes irregular heartbeats; keeps your blood pressure intact; removes excess acidity from the body and brain cells; balances your blood sugar levels; helps diabetics and clears the lungs of mucus and phlegm. That’s a whole lotta’ good for a tiny pinch of salt!

And finally, you cut up a Lime to sprinkle into your mix. Lime assists with weight loss, improves your digestion, relieves constipation, heals your eyes and treats of scurvy, piles, peptic ulcers, respiratory disorders, gout, gums problems, urinary disorders and so much more.

While you also have the options of adding kunissa’s and Maldive Fish into the mix, these are merely the benefits of the original, untainted vegetarian Pol Sambol. As it stands, it’s a whopper of a side dish that the truly Sri Lankan at heart will always crave for.

Featured Image Credit: Akkis Kitchen

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