Small bowl filled with red sambal sauce, made from chili peppers, garlic, and other spices. pinit

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Discover the bold and spicy world of Indonesian cuisine with our Homemade Sambal recipe. Sambal is a versatile and intensely flavorful condiment that has a special place in Indonesian kitchens. From street food stalls to family dining tables, sambal is a staple that adds a fiery kick to any dish. In this recipe, we’ll guide you through creating your own sambal, allowing you to customize the heat level and ingredients to suit your palate.

Sambal, a spicy and flavorful condiment, has a rich culinary heritage in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. This versatile sauce is a staple in the region’s cuisine, and its origins can be traced back centuries.

  • The word “sambal” is derived from the Malay word “sambel,” which means “sauce.” Sambal is, essentially, a spicy chili-based sauce or paste.
  • Sambal’s origins can be found in the spice trade routes that connected Southeast Asia with India and the Middle East. The introduction of chili peppers to the region significantly impacted local cuisines.
  • Sambal is made by blending or grinding chili peppers with various ingredients such as garlic, shallots, shrimp paste (belacan), and lime juice. The result is a complex and fiery condiment that adds depth and heat to a wide range of dishes.

Sambal represents the vibrant and diverse culinary traditions of Southeast Asia, showcasing the region’s love for bold and spicy flavors. It is a testament to the art of balance in combining ingredients to create a harmonious explosion of taste.


Sambal is more than just a condiment; it's a cultural emblem of Indonesia. The word "sambal" refers to a range of chili-based sauces that vary in flavor, spice, and texture. From mellow and tangy to seriously spicy, sambal comes in countless variations, each capturing a unique taste profile.

Our Homemade Sambal recipe empowers you to create your own signature blend, whether you're a heat seeker or prefer a milder touch. With a handful of fresh ingredients and a mortar and pestle or food processor, you'll craft a condiment that's sure to awaken your taste buds and elevate your meals.

Tools and Equipment

Prep Time 15 mins Cook Time 10 mins Rest Time 15 mins Total Time 40 mins Difficulty: Intermediate Servings: 1 Calories: 324.5 Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin by preparing the chili peppers. If you prefer a milder sambal, remove the seeds and membranes from some or all of the chili peppers.

  2. In a mortar and pestle or food processor, combine the shallots, garlic, and tomato. Grind or process until you have a coarse paste.

  3. Add the chili peppers to the mortar or processor and continue grinding or processing until the mixture becomes a smooth paste.

  4. If using a mortar and pestle, make sure to use a gentle, circular motion to coax out the flavors without overworking the ingredients.

  5. If using shrimp paste, wrap it in a small piece of aluminum foil and lightly toast it on a dry skillet for a minute or two until fragrant. Then, add it to the mixture.

  6. Incorporate the palm sugar, tamarind pulp, and salt into the mixture. Blend until everything is well combined and the sugar has dissolved.

  7. Transfer the sambal to a mixing bowl and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This resting period allows the flavors to meld together.

  8. Taste the sambal and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add more salt, sugar, or tamarind to achieve the perfect balance of flavors.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 1

Amount Per Serving
Calories 324.5kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1.17g2%
Saturated Fat 0.13g1%
Sodium 2420.29mg101%
Potassium 1919.94mg55%
Total Carbohydrate 75.4g26%
Dietary Fiber 11.78g48%
Sugars 48.01g
Protein 12.56g26%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Please note that the nutritional values provided are approximate and may vary depending on the specific ingredients and portion sizes used. It's always best to double-check with your specific ingredients and measurements for accurate nutritional information.


Tips and Variations:
  • To enhance the depth of flavor, lightly roast the shallots, garlic, and tomato before grinding them.
  • Experiment with different chili pepper varieties for unique flavor profiles. Thai bird's eye chili peppers are a popular choice for their heat.
  • Customize the sweetness by adjusting the amount of sugar or using a different sweetener.
  • For a smoky note, you can char the chili peppers over an open flame before grinding them.
  • If you're short on time, you can use tamarind paste instead of tamarind pulp.
Serving Suggestions:
  • Serve sambal as a fiery condiment alongside Indonesian dishes like nasi goreng (fried rice) or rendang (spicy beef stew).
  • Use sambal to add a kick to grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables.
  • Drizzle sambal over fried eggs or omelets for a spicy breakfast treat.
Allergen Information:
  • The allergen content of sambal can vary depending on the recipe and ingredients used. Traditional sambal often contains shrimp paste (belacan), which is a common allergen for individuals with shellfish allergies. Vegan or vegetarian sambal recipes may omit shrimp paste.
  • Additionally, sambal may contain other potential allergens like peanuts or soy. Individuals with allergies or dietary restrictions should choose sambal recipes that suit their needs and check ingredient labels carefully.
Wine or Drink Pairing:
  • Sambal is intensely spicy and flavorful, making it a condiment rather than a standalone dish. It is typically used as a flavor enhancer for other dishes. Consider pairing it with dishes like grilled meats, seafood, or noodles.
  • To balance the heat of sambal, enjoy it with a refreshing drink like coconut water, iced tea, or a cold beer. The coolness of these beverages can help counteract the spiciness.
Storage and Leftovers:
  • Sambal can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. The cold temperature will help preserve its freshness and flavor.
  • If you have leftover sambal, use it as a condiment for future meals. It can add a spicy kick to stir-fries, soups, rice dishes, or noodles. Be mindful of its potency, and adjust the quantity to suit your taste.
Keywords: Sambal, Indonesian Sambal, Chili Condiment, Spicy Sauce, Homemade Condiment

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