Sambal is the wonderful, spicy red sauce that Balinese housewives and chefs serve with boiled rice. How hot you want it, depends on your use of chili and garlic.
According to Bethany Moncel who writes on South Asian food for, there are hundreds of varieties of sambal that vary depending on the type of chilies used, other added ingredients, texture, and region in which it is made.
The sauce consists of ground or pureed chilies and may include small amounts of other ingredients such as citrus juice, shallots, fruit, salt, sugar, or other spices. Making this spicy chili paste is a way to preserve chilies and is often used when fresh chilies are not available.
The word “sambal” is also used to indicate a dish in which sambal sauce is a main ingredient. For example, the Malaysian dish “Sambal goreng udang” is fresh shrimp seasoned with sambal sauce.
Flavor: Popular chilies used to make sambal include: habanero, cayenne, bird’s eye, and lombok. The heat level of the sambal is directly related to the type of chili used. Depending on whether or not sugar or fruit are added to the sambal, there may be a hint of sweetness to compliment the heat. Varieties that include shallots, salt, and other spices almost resemble a relish or chili-based salsa.
The texture of sambal ranges from a coarse relish to a smooth puree. Traditionally, sambal is made using a stone mortar and pestle to grind the chilies and other ingredients into a paste.
Sambal Oelek, which can be found in many western grocery stores, derives it’s name from the pestle with which it is made.
Traditionally sambal is used as an all-purpose condiment. It may be added to noodle dishes, soups, stews, meat, rice, and even eggs. Sambal can also be used to add heat and flavor to marinades, dips, sauces, and spreads


• 2 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
• 6 bird’s-eye chillies (cabe rawit), finely chopped
• 7 thai shallots, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• ½ ts proasted shrimp paste, crushed finely
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 halves of lime

All the ingrediences are stirred together in the frying pan, cooked in coconut oil and then ground until it becomes an even, spicy sauce.
You can watch the process of making Balinese sambal here:

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