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Caramelised shallot sambal (Sambal bawang)

Sambals are core to Indonesian culture and come in various colours, spiciness and textures. The base is chillies, one or a combination of the many varieties available on the islands, pounded with local ingredients. The origins of "sambel" are derived from Javanese, but sambal has been incorporated by the Indonesian, Singaporean, Malay, and Sri Lankan cultures and as far west as the Netherlands. No table from these countries is complete without a variety of sambals, they add spice and pops of flavour to the table.

This is a lovely sambal. Bright red from the chilli the burst of sweet and hot take over your palate. This is one of those spicier sambals, so caution is required. On the other hand, it is so addictive that you cannot stop loading it onto everything. I like to serve it with grilled meats, wrapped in omelettes, and with dumplings. Always make more than you think you are going to need.

This is a beautiful cookbook on Indonesian cuisine. The dishes are wonderful and flavorful and the recipes are very well written. This book brings a diversity of cuisine to my kitchen and table. Lara Lee brings to you recipes that have been handed down through generations orally, as well as newer recipes in a very easy-to-read format. This is a great book for those who want to learn about this cuisine and culture.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here


2 + 1 tablespoons coconut oil

16 long red chillies, halved and deseeded for a milder sambal

4-5 shallots, sliced

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon palm sugar or jaggery

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Heat the oil in a small frying pan on low heat and add the chillies, shallots and garlic. Sautè on low heat for 5-6 minutes till the chillies are cooked and soft and the shallots are translucent. Take off te heat and cool.

Add the mix to a blender and pulse to get a coarse paste. Do not add water and do not make the paste smooth.

Add the coarse paste to the pot with the additional oil, palm sugar, salt and jaggery. Cook on a low flame for 3-5 minutes till darkened and aromatic. The oil should begin to form small bubbles. Remove and cool.

The sambal can be prepared and stored in the fridge for as long as a week.

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