Sambal Bajak

Sambal Bajak

Sambal Bajak

Sambal Bajak

Sambal or chilli paste is one of the most must-have condiment in Indonesian dining table. We eat it as one of our staple food, it is almost as important as having rice on our plate. We have tons of different sambal recipes. Usually there are a typical sambal for a typical menu. Sambal bajak is one of the common sambal we have as condiment. This sambal is so awesome that it has its own site.

One of the unique part of this sambal is that it is not made of soft paste but rather chunky paste. I find it better to do this sambal by hand using mortar pestle than using a food processor. Its a lot of work tho, so better to make a big batch at a time. I am afraid if I make this sambal too often, I will end up with arms like Popeye's. 


8 Thai chili or more, cut into small pieces
1 sweet red pepper, deseeded, cut into small pieces
2 shallots, cut into small pieces
1 tsp shrimp paste (terasi)
1 Italian tomato, remove the seed (I prefer meaty tomatoes so it doesn't make the sambal too liquid)
1 tsp of salt
2 tbsp of gula jawa (Indonesian palm sugar)
2 cm of galangal, bruised
1 lemongrass, bruised
2 daun salam (Indonesian bay leaf)
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
5 tbsp cooking oil 

Cooking Step:

  1. Put thai chili, sweet red pepper, shallots, shrimp paste, tomato, salt and sugar on a mortar and pound it with the pestle. Breaking the chili and tomato skin sometime can be difficult and slippery. Take your sweet time to press, turn and do grinding motion with your pestle on the chili and tomato pieces. This will sculpt your arm muscles at the same time. Consider it as a form of exercise if you like.
  2. Once the chilies and tomato pieces have been pretty well ground (make sure you still have bits and pieces of tomatoes and chilies chunks tho), means your exercise of the day is done, yay! now move on to the next activities,
  3. Sautée your sambal paste with the oil on medium heat, add lemongrass, daun salam and tamarind concentrate. Continue cooking until the water evaporates. The sambal will be ready when the oil is separated from the paste,
  4. Tasting is very crucial in sambal making, make sure you adjust the salt and sugar to your taste. Sometime the shrimp paste can have different strength of smell too. Its easy to modify the taste of the sambal while its cooking since the salt and sugar will dissolve easily,
  5. Once the sambal is cooked, set aside and serve it on room temperature. Put the left over on a jar with tight lid and refrigerate. To be honest, I have no idea how long can it last before it goes bad because with this yield the sambal quickly disappears into the bottomless abyss (yep, we are talking about my belly here). 

Happy cooking!!

PS: this sambal can be used as condiments or as a mixture for other recipes like nasi goreng, sambal goreng, etc. 


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