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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