Sri Lankan Red Cabbage Two Ways: Varai and Sambol

Red Cabbage Varai /
Muttaikoss Varai
(15-20 minutes, serves 8.)

Sweet, firm, rich with coconut.

8 oz. cabbage
1 medium onion, minced
2 fresh green chilies, seeded and chopped
¼ rounded tsp. ground turmeric
¼ rounded tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 rounded tsp. salt
2 T lime juice
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1. Shred cabbage finely. Wash well, drain, and put into a large saucepan. Don’t worry about drying the water clinging to the cabbage—you actually want that water to help steam the cabbage.

2. Add all the other ingredients except the coconut. Cover and cook gently until cabbage is tender, stirring periodically.

3. Uncover, add coconut, stir well, and when the liquid in the pan has been absorbed by the coconut, remove from heat. Allow to cool before serving.


Red Cabbage Sambol
(10-15 minutes, serves 8.)

8 oz. cabbage
1 medium onion, minced
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
juice of 2 small limes (about 2-3 Tbsp.)
1-2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. fine salt

1. Shred cabbage finely (by hand or in food processor).

2. Add onion, coconut, tomato, lime juice, sugar, salt. Mix thoroughly.

Note: This can be served immediately, but best if allowed to sit and blend for an hour or so. It will keep in the fridge for a good week — refresh with a little extra lime juice as needed.


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