Sambal olek

Sambal olek

My Feast
1 cup
Chris Chen

This condiment is in everyone’s pantry in Indonesia. It can be served hot or cold, and is an ideal side to just about any dish.


Quantity Ingredient
2cm ginger, chopped
garlic, chopped
1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped, (white part only)
6-8 red bird’s eye chillies, chopped, to taste
1 lime, finely grated zest
50ml white vinegar
coarse salt, to taste
110g white sugar


  1. Using a large mortar and pestle, grind the ginger, garlic and lemongrass together. Add the chilli and half of the lime zest and grind the ingredients together. Add the vinegar, which will add sourness and bring out many of the flavours in the sambal. Add a pinch of salt and continue grinding. The salt will assist in breaking down the ingredients. Taste the mix to ensure you are happy with the combination of sour, salty and hot flavours. Add more of the ingredients to balance the taste as necessary.
  2. Place the sambal in a small frying pan over high heat, being careful not to let the flames come up around the sides of the pan (as this will burn the edges of the sambal). Stir as it heats up.
  3. Add the sugar, which will caramelise the sambal and bring the flavours together.
  4. When the solids start to break down and the mixture starts to thicken, it is almost done. Add the remaining lime zest and cook for 1 1/2 minutes to keep the lime flavour fresh, but not raw, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until the mixture is pulpy. Serve hot or cold. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
My Sri Lanka
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