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Tomato Sambal (Sambal Tomat)

Tomato Sambal (Sambal Tomat)
Louise Hagger / Coconut & Sambal
makes 16 portions

Chef 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 chile-sensitive palates, like my Devonshire mother-in-law, Caroline, deseeding the chiles 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 flavored 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.

Technique tip: 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.


  • 20 long red chiles, deseeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 4-centimeter piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 small banana shallots or 4 Thai shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 ounces 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 freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • coconut oil or sunflower oil, for frying



Place the chiles, garlic, ginger, shallots and tomatoes in a food processor and blend to a semi-fine paste, retaining a little texture.


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.

Reprinted from Coconut & Sambal by arrangement with Bloomsbury Publishing. Copyright © 2020, Lara Lee.TODAY has affiliate relationships, so we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchases. Items are sold by the retailer, not by TODAY.