Nirmal Upendra, daughter Elisha and wife Nishani
Nirmal came to Australia in April 2018, and his wife and daughter followed in April 2019. Nirmal is employed as a chef and will apply for permanent residency as soon as his supportive documents are completed.
How would you recommend serving this dish?
Having roti with chilli sambol (sambal, an Indonesian chili sauce/paste) is very popular among the Sri Lankan people. We can serve chicken curry and Sri Lankan chili sambal as side dishes. This traditional roti is usually served for breakfast or dinner and can also sometimes be used for evening tea time.
How did you learn to cook it?
Sri Lanka is a tropical island with plenty of coconut groves, and that’s why our people use coconut in many forms in our day-to-day cooking. Normally, our dishes are graced with freshly grated coconut, some coconut milk and coconut oil. “Pol Roti” is one of those dishes that is made with grated coconut. Sri Lankan women are hard workers, and they are generally very busy with their daily activities. So, they are used to making this traditional, delicious roti with just flour and coconut. A few simple ingredients and only minutes later, the meal is ready to be served.
Are there different versions of the dish?
Yes. If you have kids, this is a great way to get their attention to eat more vegetables! Add some grated carrot, chopped onion, curry leaves and green chili to the basic ingredients listed below, and simply follow the exact same steps to make delicious roti.
Pol Roti (Coconut Roti)
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 2 cups coconut milk
- Salt to taste
- A small amount of water
- Wash hands thoroughly.
- Mix flour, grated coconut and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add water gradually while using one hand to mix and thoroughly knead the dough for about 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure to use up all the excess flour until a smooth dough is formed.
- Shape the dough into a ball and divide the ball into 4 smaller portions. This amount is enough for 4 medium-sized roti.
- Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
- Grease each ball with a bit of oil to prevent it from sticking in the pan.
- Take each ball and roll it into a circle with a radius of between 5 to 8 cm.
- Place circle in pan and cook on one side for 1 to 2 minutes or until you see brown spots forming on the surface.
- Use tongs to turn the roti over and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
- By now you should be smelling an incredible scent, one which cannot be explained in words!
- Once well-cooked, remove the roti from the pan and repeat the process.
Variations on this recipe:
Use desiccated coconut instead of fresh to save time. Make sure it’s unsweetened – the sweetened version won’t work with this recipe. Also add a mixture of coconut milk and water to your dough if you’re using desiccated coconut.
Substitute chicken curry with lentil curry for a vegan version.
There won’t be any roti dough left to use as leftovers, but you can enjoy any leftover curry with some steamed rice and pappadam (typically made from flour or a paste derived from either lentils, chickpeas, black gram, rice or potato).