Indonesian Sambal

For those who like a little spice in their lives, there is nothing better than a chili sauce, one balanced in flavor that not only brings mouth heat but also comforting warmth to a meal. For me, a chili sauce in an Asian meal is as important (if not more) as salt and pepper shakers on a western table. Whether soy sauce based or chili pepper based, flavoured with shrimp paste, or fermented soy bean, or lemongrass, or small red chilis chopped with seeds and all (not for the faint of heart) – it lends an umami flavour, which once you start having with your meals, is hard to go without.


If you like the flavour of a particular chili sauce, but not the heat, then why not try to make your own at home? It’s actually pretty simple, and once you have found a good recipe, you can whip up a batch and keep it in the fridge to savour over coming days.

Whenever we go to Bali, I always hang around the villa’s kitchen, and if I ask nicely, Ketut (the chef) is always happy to give me a cooking demonstration. Here are two Indonesian sambal recipes that I love, straight from a Balinese kitchen to you.

Sambal Matah – or Sambal Bali, as I call it 🙂

This is a raw sambal, of Balinese origin.

Ingredients for Sambal Matah

Ingredients for Sambal Matah


5 shallots, finely sliced
3 Lemongrass, white section finely chopped
3 chilis, finely chopped
1/4 lime
1 cm piece of shimp paste
vegetable oil or coconut oil

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The best of Bali – Food

One of my favorite places in the world is Bali, the enchanting island of the Gods. Each time the wheels touch the tarmac, all stress vanishes and I feel instantly lighter. Feeling the coarse black sand squelching in between your toes as you run away from the crashing waves that always approach faster than you anticipated. Driving through paddy fields on pot-holed roads as you watch a large group of children pass by carrying a huge kite over their heads. Kayaking, or white water rafting, or cycling, or climbing, or playing with lion cubs at the zoo. For me, everything about this island promotes peace, tranquility, and a general sense of well being. And the food, oh my goodness, the food! The Balinese put so much emphasis on spices so that myriads of different combinations of them result in such a rich depth of flavour that it’s simply impossible to not be delighted.


All these reasons and more makes one appreciate Bali so fully, not only for the trendy tourists spots, but also for the small, no-frills restaurants that serve simple, honest and authentic Bali cuisine. I love watching the sun set at Ku De Ta with one of their stupidly expensive (yet amazing) cocktails in hand, just as much as I love to pull the flesh off a piece of ayam goreng and dip it in sambal before placing it on top of my rice and scooping it into my mouth with my fingers at a road-side warung.

So here I give you my Bali favorites, the posh and the plain, the hip and the trendy, the cheap and the cheerful.



Potato Head has something for everyone – call ahead to reserve one of their day beds by the pool to enjoy cocktails and snacks in between dips. There is a minimum charge, but with their prices, you’ll have no problem covering it. The cocktails are around the same as HK prices, or you could opt for one of their awesome sangria mixes (around IDR560,000/HK$450 for around 6 glasses), served in large fishbowls. At the Beach Club, the food is of a very high standard and their burgers and desserts are to die for.

Potato Head’s Wagyu Beef Burger – hands down the best burger in Bali. Perhaps even one of the best burgers I’ve had, ever! R120,000 (HK$100)

Check out Lilin in the evenings for Asian Tapas, a wonderful way to try all kinds of South East Asian cuisines in small portions. The grilled fish was great, although for the other grilled seafood options you’re better off in Jimbaran.  I haven’t tried Tapping Shoes yet, their more upscale modern French restaurant (headed by Japanese chef Take Hikaru), but if the other food is anything to go by…

Address: Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak Tel: +62 361 473 7979 Website:


4 tapas (prawn balls, beef rendang, Thai roast duck red curry, fish carpaccio) for IDR 180,000 (HK$145)


In its 12th year as a Bali hot spot, KTC is the place to see and be seen. Indulge in a modern dinner and a really yummy and extensive cocktail list (Rp. 110,000).  A nice place for a special occasion for dinner, but really, I’d prefer to eat locally, you can always eat this stuff at home. Go there to watch the sunset with an awesome cocktail and some cool vibes instead.

Address: Jalan Laksmana, 9, Seminyak Tel: (+62) 361 736969 Website:

Ku de ta


Don’t be surprised if you end up going to Naughty Nuri’s 3 times in a 5 day trip to Bali – their ribs are that good. I’ve heard good things about their pork chops as well – choose from a good range of side-dishes (porn corn, anyone?) as well as a choice of Indonesian dishes. Their slogan is spot on: “A funky streetside food haven, especially for the “naughty but nice!” With wicked ribs and brutal martinis, fun times and smiles are guaranteed.”

Address: Jalan Batubelig, 41 Tel: (+62) 361 847 6722 Website:


Full slab of the most delicious, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs! IDR 89,000 (HK$ 70)

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