Sambal is such a versatile accompaniment and, when you try this recipe, I’m sure you'll never use store-bought sambal again. It's all about the chillies. My recommendation is the scud chilli, it's the best, the hottest and the most flavoursome. Stored in the fridge, this will keep for several weeks.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (312 votes)


  • 2 cm piece ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemongrass root, finely chopped
  • 6–8 fresh chillies
  • 1 lime, rind grated 
  • 50 ml white vinegar
  • coarse salt
  • ½ cup white sugar

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 1 cup

Chop the ginger, garlic and lemongrass and place in a mortar. Add the chillies and half of the lime rind, keeping the other half aside for later.

Crush the ingredients together in the mortar. Gradually add the vinegar.

Add a pinch of salt and continue pounding. The salt will assist breaking down the other ingredients.

Taste the mix to ensure you are happy with the combination of sweet, sour, salty and hot flavours. Add additional amounts of the ingredients as required to balance the taste to your liking.

Add the mix to a cold pan. Place the pan over high heat. Be careful not to let the flame come up around the sides of the pan (this will burn the edges).

Mix the sambal with a wooden spoon as it heats.

Add the sugar. This will caramelise the mix and bring the flavours together.

Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the mixture is pulpy.

When the mix is almost done, add the remaining lime rind. Cook for a further 90 seconds.

Serve the sambal hot or cold, as an accompaniment to just about any dish.