It’s Getting Hot in Here

The word Sambal is of Indonesian origin. It is a condiment, an ingredient or a dish which always contains a large amount of chilies. Sambal is popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the southern Philippines and Sri Lanka, as well as in the Netherlands and in Suriname through Indonesian influence.


It is typically made from a variety of chilies. Sambal is served as a condiment and as an ingredient for a variety of dishes. It is sometimes a substitute for fresh chilies. It can be extremely spicy for the uninitiated. It is common to find bowls of different sambals on the dining table in Indonesian homes.

Some ready-made sambals are available at food markets or supermarkets in many Asian countries.

Some popular Indonesian sambals include sambal terasi (shrimp paste sambal), sambal bajak, sambal mangga (green mango sambal), sambal ijo (green sambal), sambal balado, sambal kecap (sweet soy sauce sambal) sambal ulek, sambal setan, sambal Taliwang, sambal matah  and many more.

My favorite sambal is sambal terasi but I love all types of sambal. Some sambal recipes I posted here are the adaptation of recipes I learned from Authentic Recipes from Indonesia by Holzen & Arsana (Periplus Edition 2006).

Sambal Terasi (Chili sauce with shrimp-paste)



4- 5 red finger-length chilies, deseeded if you wish to be less fiery

10 gram or 1 tablespoon dried-roasted shrimp paste (terasi)

10 gram or 1 tablespoon shaved palm sugar or dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Grind all the ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar or blender.

For a more fiery sambal, use bird’s eye chilies instead of finger-length chilies

Sambal Kecap (Sweet Soy Sauce Sambal)


3-4 shallots, peeled and sliced
2-3 bird’s eye chilies, deseeded if you wish to be less fiery, sliced in small cut
2 tablespoons sweet Indonesian soy sauce (kecap manis)
1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed dark green calamansi lime (jeruk limau)
Combine all the ingredients, mix well and serve in a small bowl

Sambal Rujak


 100 gram shaved palm sugar
200 ml water
60 ml tamarind juice
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste, dry roasted
3-4 bird’s eye chilies
½ teaspoon salt

Grind the palm sugar, salt, shrimp paste and chilies to a smooth paste in a mortal. Add the tamarind juice to the ground mixture and mix well

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

Add the mixture to the water, stir well, increase the heat to a medium and bring the mixture to a boil

Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is thickened

Sambal rujak is used as a dressing for fruit salad.

½ pineapple, peeled, eyes and fibrous core discarded, then sliced
1 unripe mango, peeled and pitted, flesh sliced
1 small cucumber, peeled, deseeded and sliced
1 star fruit, sliced
1 small jicama (bengkuang), peeled and sliced

Place all the cut fruit in a large salad bowl, drizzle the sambal rujak over them and toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

Rujak is a popular snack in Indonesia with its intriguing mixture of sweet, sour and spicy flavors.


Sambal Matah (Balinese Shallot & Lemon Grass Sambal)


15 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10-15 bird’s eye chilies, finely sliced
5 kaffir lime leaves, discard the mid part then thinly finely sliced
1 teaspoon roasted dried shrimp paste
4 stalks lemon grass, white part only, thinly finely sliced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns, finely crushed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
80 ml vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil

Combine all other ingredients and mix thoroughly for a couple of minutes before serving with fish or chicken..

sambal matah


3 responses to “It’s Getting Hot in Here

  1. Looks utterly delish! Just like how my mum makes it.

  2. I Looooove rujak 😀 nice info 🙂 btw, where do u learn to make all that sambal? r u indonesian too?

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