Asian recipes/ Sauces, dressings & condiments/ Stir-fry/ Vegetarian

Sambal Badjak

7 November 2020

Everybody needs a bit of spice in their life now and then, and in my opinion the Indonesians are the best at making sambals (chili pastes). Why else would they call a whole Island ‘Lombok’, which means chili in Bahasa Indonesian? There are so many different kinds, from fried, to fresh, to sweet, to sour.

One of my favourites is Sambal Badjak, which is fried in oil with different fresh ingredients and is sweet but hot at the same time and has a dark rich colour.

Sambal Badjak

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Condiments & sauces Asian, Indonesian
Serves: 1 cup
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1/4 cup water (you can use the left over soaking water from the dried chilis)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup dried chili's (unchopped it's 1 cup)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves (±25 g)
  • 4 shallots or 1 medium onion (± 125g)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (Indonesian: trassi, Malaysian: belacan), toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 tsp laos powder (or 2 cm fresh, roughly chopped)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
  • 30 - 50 gram palm or brown sugar, to taste
  • **To taste at end:
  • Salt (± 1/2 tsp)
  • Tamarind juice (±1 tbsp)



Remove seeds from the dried red chilies and soak in hot water for 10 minutes to soften.


Toast the shrimp paste in a dry work or frying pan, ± 30-45 seconds, until starting to smell strongly (don't worry, it tastes better than it smells)


In a food processor grind together chilies, garlic, shallots / onion, toasted shrimp paste, laos and chili soaking water into a fine paste.


Transfer the paste to a wok or frying pan.


Cook the chili paste on medium-high until the paste becomes thicker and drier so the water evaporates before we add the oil.


Keep stirring now and then.


Add in the oil and kaffir lime leaves. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir to mix well.


Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for another 15 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the chili paste.


Keep stirring now and then.


Add sugar, salt, and tamarind juice (don't add everything in 1 time, you want to be able to adjust to taste). Cook until everything has been incorporated into the chili paste.


Adjust salt, sugar and tamarind to taste.


Turn off heat.


Let the chili paste cool, then transfer to glass jars to store.


Unopened you can keep this sambal for 2 months in the fridge, opened use within 2 weeks.


Leave the kaffir lime leave in for flavour, but not recommended to eat it as is.

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  • Reply
    6 June 2021 at 03:01

    Using the dried chilis is giving you the wrong color. Best choice from Indonesia is either: Cabe lombok (long and red or green, but red for this recipe and about a thumbs width wide), or cabe keriting (long and a little curly, very thin) and then a mixture of fresh birds eye chili–small chilis. Finally in my Indonesian family for this Javanese recipe we use no laos and do add candle nut (3 or 4), also known as kemiri.

    • Reply
      6 June 2021 at 08:41

      Hi Yvonne,

      Thanks so much for the tip! There quite a few different versions to be found online and in cookbooks. I’ll give yours a try too! I did find that the taste, structure and colour was very authentic to what I have when I’m in Indonesia though. But thanks again!

  • Reply
    Tempeh Sambal Goreng – A Pinch of Saffron
    6 July 2022 at 20:37

    […] You can use storebought sambal if you’re in a time squeeze, but you can of course also make your own. Here is one of my versions for Sambal Badjak. […]

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