Sambal sauce
Sambal is an Indonesian chilli sauce made from a mixture of chillies and other spices and herbs. It has a complex flavour that is earthy, spicy and hot. Sambal is often used as a condiment to add heat and flavour to dishes such as rice, noodles, and meats.
Sambal is also popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Brunei and has resulted in many variations of the sambal recipe.
Sambal sauce can be a condiment to meals like nasi lemak (rice in coconut milk), turmeric rice – or simply plain rice.
There are many different variations of sambal, with each region and even each household having its own unique recipe.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 1 jar


  • 3 large red chillies (dried)
  • 4 large tomatoes (peeled, deseeded and chopped)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (thinly sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled & chopped)
  • 1 slice ginger (peeled & chopped)
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 5-6 tbsp vinegar
  • 100 g sugar
  • salt (to taste)


  • Blend the red chilli, tomatoes, ginger, lemongrass and garlic until smooth, adding the vinegar gradually.
  • Add the paste to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • Add the salt and lemon juice.
  • Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool down.
  • Serve with your favourite dish or keep refrigerated in a sterilised jar.
In Indonesia there are as many as 300 varieties of sambal. The intensity of heat ranges from mild to very hot.