top of page

Indonesian tomato sambal (Sambal tomat)

Sambal comes from the Javanese word sambel, and is defined as a “chile paste” or “relish.” In fact, any condiment that counts chiles as an ingredient can be deemed a sambal. While ubiquitous all over Southeast Asia, sambal is thought to have originated in Indonesia. In Indonesia, sambal can be a paste of red or green chiles ground together with any number of other ingredients: garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, tomatoes, and/or shrimp paste.

There are over 200 different kinds of sambals, each unique to regions and families. However, sambals are generally classified into two types: raw and cooked.

This is a lovely and spicy cooked sambal with a base of tomatoes. I used arbol chillies, so the sambal was super spicy and got this bright red colour. You can substitute any dried chilli of your choice for a milder and subtler sambal. The sambal is not just about heat; the tomatoes and tamarind add a lovely tartness and the sugar a mild sweetness. This is a flavour-packed sambal that shines as a condiment on the table.

This is a beautiful cookbook on Indonesian cuisine. The dishes are lovely and flavorful, and the recipes are written very well. This book brings a diversity of cuisine to my kitchen and table. Lara Lee brings 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

15-20 long red chillies (See note)

2-3 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon ginger paste

3-4 shallots

1/2 lb cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate

1 tablespoon palm sugar or jaggery

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons coconut oil or sunflower oil

Add all the ingredients, except oil, to a small blender and purèe to a coarse consistency.

Heat the oil in a small pot. Add the paste and fry on medium-low heat until the paste has thickened considerably and the oil has pooled on the surface, about 30-40 minutes. Be careful to continually stir the paste in the latter half, as the sambal sticks to the bottom and burns.

Cool and store in the fridge for as long as 1 week, but it will never last that long. Serve at room temperature.


For a less spicy version of this sambal, substitute 10 chilli peppers for 1 red bell pepper.

14 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr Social Icon
  • Instagram
  • Blogger
bottom of page