Chile Pepper

Sambal Tomat (Tomato Sambal)

May 24, 2021
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Makes 250 grams (about 16 portions)
Author Notes

I think of this tomato relish as a beginner’s guide to sambal, as it works beautifully either spicy or mild, depending on your preference. For those with chilli-sensitive palates, like my Devonshire mother-in-law, Caroline, deseeding the chillies lowers the potency of the heat. The addition of tomatoes makes it a mellow and umami-rich relish that is irresistible drizzled over soups, added to stews or used as a dipping sauce with wedges or fritters.

This is typically made with intensely flavoured bush tomatoes in the parts of Indonesia where they are lucky enough to grow them, but in my home kitchen in London I’m happy to use good-quality cherry tomatoes.

This sambal keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge covered with a thin layer of sunflower oil, or for up to 3 months in the freezer.

Reprinted from Coconut & Sambal by arrangement with Bloomsbury Publishing. Copyright © 2020, Lara Lee.Lara Lee

What You'll Need
  • 20 long red chillies (about 250 grams), deseeded and sliced 

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 20 grams ginger (about 4-cm piece), peeled and sliced
  • 2 small banana shallots or 4 Thai shallots, peeled and sliced

  • 180 grams cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste (or 1 teaspoon lime juice mixed with 1 teaspoon brown sugar)

  • 1/2 teaspoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Coconut oil or sunflower oil, for frying
  1. Place the chillies, garlic, ginger, shallots and tomatoes in a food processor and blend to a semi-fine paste, retaining a little texture.
  2. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of oil. Add the paste to the pan and cook, stirring continuously, for 10–15 minutes or until the sambal darkens, is fragrant and reduces to a thick consistency. Season with the tamarind paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Leave to cool.

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Lara Lee

Recipe by: Lara Lee

Lara Lee is a Chinese-Indonesian and Australian chef and food writer. She is the author of Indonesian cookbook Coconut & Sambal, and a contributor for Food52, Bon Appetit, the Guardian and New York Times. Her book was named one of the best cookbooks of 2020 by the NYT, Guardian, Eater, National Geographic and more. When she's not cooking, you'll find her teaching Indonesian words to her toddler Jonah.

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