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Indonesian Sambal Recipe

Sambal is a dish common in Indonesia that takes many guises of sauces and dips. The simplest and perhaps most common is sambal ulek, which is just chillies and salt with perhaps a dash of lime pounded together. There are many other kinds of sambal like sambal pecel (with peanut), sambal terasi (with shrimp paste), sambal tumpeng, etc


2 slices belacan/terasi (shrimp paste) about half a centimetre thick
30 red chillies, sliced
20 rawit, sliced (small birds eye chillies)
3-4 shallots, peeled and chopped
5-10 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 tsp melted palm sugar (you can also use dark brown sugar if you can’t get palm sugar)


Put the sliced belacan/terasi on aluminium foil and cook in a preheated oven (150 degrees C) for 20 minutes, until dry and crumbly, turning once. Allow to cool.

Process all the ingredients together (including the belacan/terasi) in your food processor until smooth. You can freeze this sambal in small portions. It keeps for months. Delicious on freshly-cooked pandan rice.

Note: Indonesian recipes use a lot of belacan or terasi (also spelt trassie). Most Europeans find it unpleasant to smell, so keep it in an airtight jar at room temperature in your cupboard. It has a strong smell while cooking too, but you will not be able to taste it as such once the dish is ready. It is also quite salty so no extra seasoning is usually required!!

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