Sambal Chilli

I've been introduced to this Nethili Sambal dish when I's 17 r 18 yrs old. A family member had been to singapore for many years and learned many dishes from there. That time she used to tell us about some paste ( which u don't get in India) which gives that authentic sambal flavour (now I know what she meant, obviously it's belacan). Inspite we had prepared this dish many a times. Later, we stopped consuming as it involves lots of time n lot's of OIL. This sambal chilli is used as a base for many malay dishes. It's finger licking delicious and I made Ikan bilis sambal ( nethili sambal)with this paste .Just try once, u'll fall in love..

Shallots (rose) --300 gm
Dry red chillies -- 30 - 35 nos ( remove the seeds to take off the heat)
Garlic -- 14 nos.
Ginger -- 1" piece
Galangal -- 10 gm
+Ginger -- 20 gm
Salt -- to taste
Oil -- 1/4 cup
Jaggery /palm sugar -- 3 tbsp
Thick tamarind pulp -- 3 tbsp (mixed with 1/4 cup of water)
Belacan -- 1 tbsp,toasted (optional)

Method :
  • Soak the shallots in water overnight to peel the skin easily( else soak it for a couple of hours)
  • Cut the chillies using a scissor and remove all the seeds. Soak the skin in plain cold water for couple of hours or until it's soft.
  • Toast the baacan in a pan until all the moisture is absorbed and turns dry n powdered.
  • Also soak the garlic in water if it's skin is tight . Peel the skin off and gather the shallots,garlic,red chillies,ginger/galangal,belacan and put them in a blender. Finely grind everything adding only 1/4 cup or less water to run the mixie.
  • Tranfer the grounded paste to the pan and cover it with a lid. Cook the mixture over medium to medium low flame for 7 to 8 minutes. By the time, all the moisture would have been gone and the paste would be dry.
  • Pour n the 1/4 cup of oil to the paste now and mix thoroughly with the masala. Cover it with a lid and cook the mixture over a LOW flame for 35 to 40 minutes stirring every now and then. During this interval, u might see the colour changer from the blood red to almost brown tinge.This happens only if u slow cook the mixture for the specified time mention above.
  • After 40 minutes, the oil would start leaving at the sides of the pan, @ this stage add the salt,tamarind pulp,jaggery and add 1/4 cup of water. (if needed)
  • Mix them thoroughly and again cover it with a lid and again cook over a low flame until u reach the desire consistency (like jam,spreadable consistency)
  • Let the sambal chilli cool for couple of minutes and store them in a good container .Store them in the freezer if u r not going to use it immediately,else keep it the fridge.

Notes/Suggestions :
  • Adding belacan is purely optional, if u can get hold of it ,USE it. 
  • Vegetarians  may simply omit the belacan and go ahead with the rest of the ingredients .This is the base masala for most of the Malaysian recipes.
  • Actually, 1 cup of oil is used to make this sambal but I've reduced to 1/4th cup and u r welcome to filter the oil once the sambal has been made.
  • Always add the oil after cooking the paste for atleat 5 minutes, by doing so, u r avoiding the spluttering situation inside ur kitchen.
  • It's NOT SPICY at all as u already removed all the seeds.It's deliciously sweet..




  1. Love the clicks and what a yummy recipe.. tongue tickling!

  2. Great post dear,thanks for sharing.

  3. Delicious looking sambal chillis.

  4. Thanks for step by step pictorial..useful recipe.

  5. Delicious, this sauce is there we can make lot dishes with it.

  6. Hi Shanavi

    New to your blog & found it very interesting. This Swambal recipe is new to me but looks super tempting. got to try.

    Following you now

    Do visit my space & follow if you like

  7. Very interesting and unique dish, sounds so yummy.

  8. new to me....yummy..very tempting :)

  9. Lovely rich colour..must be tasting awesome too.

  10. though i am in singapore, and use this paste in some of my dishes, do not know how to prepare this sambal... thanks for sharing....


  11. Shanavi,

    Very nice.. this is something I am looking for.. Great..

  12. Slurp,thick chilli looks fabulous, wish to have a bowl of this chilli based nethili sambal.

  13. This sounds new to me..looks yum




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