Malaysian Sauces

Bajak Chili Sauce
(Sambal Bajak)


  • 8 red chilies, seeded and sliced
  • 1 tsp. dried shrimp paste (terasi), toasted
  • ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 6 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1½ tsp. chopped palm sugar
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 2 salam leaves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
  • ½ inch galangal (laos), peeled and sliced
  • 4 Tbs. tamarind juice


Grind with a mortar and pestle or blend the first 7 ingredients very finely.

Heat the oil over medium high heat. Sauté the ground ingredients along with salam leaves, lemongrass and galangal. Stir it frequently until the mixture changes color and becomes very fragrant.

Lastly, pour the tamarind juice and let it simmer for about a minute and then leave to cool.

Remove salam leaves, lemongrass and galangal before serving.

Note: Keeps up to 1 week or longer

Dried Shrimp Chili Sauce
(Sambal Terasi)


  • 15 red chilies, sliced and seeded
  • 2 Tbs. dried shrimp paste
  • 2 medium-sized tomato, chopped
  • 2 small shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
  • 2 Tbs. oil
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice


Heat oil over medium heat and sauté the first five ingredients for approximately 2-3 minutes.

With a mortar and a pestle, grind the sautéd ingredients along with the rest of the ingredients.

Note: Keeps up to 1 week or longer if refrigerated

Peanut Sauce
(Sambal Kacang)


  • 3 cups deep-fried peanuts
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
  • 12 bird’s eye chilies, sliced
  • 3 inches kencur (like galangal), peeled and choped
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • ½ cup sweet soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice


Grind or blend the first four ingredients until coarse or fine depending whether you like it coarsed or fine.

Put all ingredients in a pan except the lime juice.

Simmer over very low heat for approximately 1 hour, stirring to prevent sticking.

Stir in lime juice just before use.

Note: Peanut sauce is used for variety of Indonesian Meat Dishes, such as Mixed Vegetables with Peanut Sauce (Gado-Gado), Fresh Salad with Peanut Sauce (Keredok), Chicken Satay (Sate Ayam), etc.

Shallot Chili Sauce
(Sambal Bawang)


  • 20 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 12 red chilies, seeded and sliced (be cautious!)
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. dried shrimp paste (terasi), toasted
  • 1 Tbs. lime juice
  • 1 cup oil


Heat oil over medium high heat.

Sauté all ingredients except for the lime juice for approximately 2-3 minutes.

Cool, then add the lime juice.

Note: Keeps up to 1 week or longer if refrigerated.

Soto Chili Sauce
(Sambal Soto)


  • 6 red chilies, boiled
  • 10 bird’s eye chilies, boiled
  • 1 clove garlic, fried
  • 3 candlenuts, fried
  • salt to taste
  • a pinch of sugar
  • lime juice


Grind/pound the red chilies, bird’s eye chilies, garlic and candlenuts together until it forms a paste. Add the salt and sugar.

Last, add 3 Tbs. water aand limejuice to taste. Serve

Note: Keeps up to 1 week or longer if refrigerated.

Sweet Chili Sauce
(Sambal Kecap)


  • 5 red chilies, sliced
  • 4 small shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 Tbs. sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. lime juice


Mix all ingredients well and ready to serve…easy, huh?

Sweet Soy Sauce
(Kecap Manis)

This particular sauce is one of the most important ingredients used in Indonesian recipes. Below is the homemade recipe for this sweet soy sauce; however, this sauce in widely available in most Asian Food stores in the US. My recommendation is to look for sweet soy sauce that has the following brand: Kecap Cap Bango or Kecap Manis ABC.


  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 3/4 cups Chinese dark soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, cracked
  • 1/2 tsp. star anise pods
  • 2 salam (Indian Bay) leaves
  • 2 pieces laos (galanggal)
  • 1/2 cup water


Carmelize the sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. When the sugar has melted, add the soy sauce and all the other ingredients.

Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

All this somewhat-thickened syrup to cool. Before pouring it into one or more bottles, you have the choice of straining the sauce or not. Sweet soy sauce could last for several months if refrigerated.

Makes approximately 2-3 cups.

Sambal Oelek


  • 1 Dozen red chilies
  • 1/2 t Shrimp paste
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1 T Tamarind juice


Pound chilies, shrimp paste and salt together in a mortar. Stir in tamarind juice.

Alternatively, blend all ingredients in a blender.

** This mixture is an ingredient used in most Indonesian dishes. It can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Aubergine Sauce
(Sambal Terong)

Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 sm Aubergines
  • 1 lg Spanish onion
  • 4 Cloves garlic
  • 1 tb Vegetable oil
  • 2 ts Chilli powder
  • 1 sl Terasi
  • 1 ts Brown sugar
  • 2 lg Tomatoes


Slice the aubergine and sprinkle it with salt; leave to stand for half an hour, then rinse and dry. Cut up the tomatoes and remove the seeds.

Crush the terasi and garlic together. Slice the onion thinly, and fry until slightly brown. Add the garlic and terasi, the sugar and the chili powder. Put in the aubergine, and mix well. Add the tomatoes, cover the pan, and continue cooking gently for 5 minutes. Taste, and add salt if necessary. Then put the mixture into a pudding basin and steam it for 20 minutes.

If you want this relish to be really hot–spicy hot–then take 4 green chilis, seed them and chop finely, and put them into the frying-pan at the same time as the onions. Alternatively, use dried red chilis: soak them for at least 15 minutes and put them into the mixture, whole, when everything goes into the basin for steaming.

This is a relish which can be used hot or cold.

Sambal Dabo Lilang


  • 1 md Onion, cut into -thin strips
  • 1 sm Tomato (ripe), -cut into small cubes
  • 1 t Basil (fresh), -chopped fine
  • 1 Lime rind, chopped -into tiny pieces
  • 1/4 c Lime juice (fresh)
  • 1 sm Hot red chili (fresh), -stemmed, seeded, cut -into thin strips
  • 1 sm Hot green chili (fresh), -stemmed, seeded, cut -into thin strips


Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Let it sit for several hours, stirring occasionally.

Garam Masala

(Ground Mixed Spices)

  • 115 g (4 oz.) coriander seeds, washed and dried
  • 55 g (2 oz.) cumin seeds, washed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper
  • 3 teaspoons cardamom seeds
  • 30 g (1 oz.) cinnamon bark, broken into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 3 nutmegs


Spread the ingredients in a large aluminum tray. Heat under a warm grill till fragrant and very lightly browned – do not allow to darken. Grind mixture, while still warm, in a coffee grinder till very fine. Keep in an air-tight bottle and store in fridge.

Sambal Limau


  • 4 red peppers
  • 2 tsp belacan ( shrimp paste )
  • 2 limau fruits*
  • Palm sugar and salt to taste


Grind the peppers, belacan, salt, and palm sugar ( not too fine ). remove the seeds from the limau’s and press it ( into the paste ) to get the juice and mix well.

Serve it with fresh salads or crispy fried fish/chicken.

* Limau is still family from lemon but it is smaller than a normal lemon ( as big as cherry ). It has dark green collour and it’s give very special flavour. If you can not find it in a Indonesian food shop, you can replace the fruit with 2 fresh lemon leaves, chop it fine and add 2 tsp lemon juice on your sambal.

Rudy’s Sambal


  • 250g red (spanish) peper, seeds free
  • 1 big onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tsp terasi (shrimp paste)
  • 1 dsp ebie (dried shrimp), soaked in hot water
  • 2 cm of laos
  • 1 salam leaf
  • salt
  • palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup of corn oil for frying


Blend/grind all ingridients except the laos and salam leaf in the food processor until smooth paste. 

* fry the chilly paste in a pan with hot oil and put the laos and salam leaf, give 1/2 cup extra of hot water on it. 

* stiring about every 3 minutes untill it get nice thick and slightly paste.

Peanut Sesame Sauce

  • 6 Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/2 cup dark sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sherry
  • 4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1-2 Tbsp. hot pepper oil (see instructions below)*
  • 1/2 cup hot water


Combine all ingredients except hot water in a blender or food processor fitted with steel blade and blend until smooth. Thin with hot water to consistency of whipping cream.

Sauce for Duck/Mango Salad

  • 3 Tbs water
  • Half tsp salt
  • One to 2 tsp sugar
  • Half tsp sesame oil
  • Half Tbs tomato ketchup
  • One tsp chili sauce
  • One-and-a-half tsp cornflour
  • One-and-a-half Chinese plum sauce or apricot jam
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil


  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together except for the oil and plum sauce. Heat oil in a wok and add the mixture, stir well till sauce thickens, add plum sauce or apricot jam and turn off heat. Cool in the fridge.
  2. To serve, pour the sauce over the duck at the table and all the guests should toss the salad together.

Chili Crab Sauce


  • 3 Tbs tomato ketchup
  • One-and-a-half Tbs sugar, according to taste
  • Quarter tsp salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • One tsp pounded salted brown soya bean paste
  • One cup water
  • One-and-a-half tsp cornflour
  • Half tsp rice or malt vinegar of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Quarter tsp dark soya sauce


Mix sauce ingredients except for the vinegar or lime juice. Heat wok, add oil and when hot, add the garlic, stir fry for one minute, add chilies, stir fry for another minute and add crab or lobster pieces.

Spicy Chicken Sauce


  • 1 star aniseed
  • 1/2 tsp brown peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp clove
  • 1 piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 cardamom
  • 1/4 dried tangerine peel
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar


Bring spicy sauce to the boil until 4 cups of water is left. Strain. Add light soy sauce and sugar. Bring to the boil again. Put chicken in spicy sauce. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. 

Can be used for baking or grilling, too!

Fresh Petai Sambal

Seeing piles of fresh petai in the markets in Kuantan, Malaysia, was exciting. I usually make do with bottled or canned ones. The market stalls offered both the twisted whole beans and the bright green seeds removed from the pods. I bought the latter and created a sambal which featured those flavours (Indian, Chinese, Nonya) which come together so harmoniously in the food of Malaysia. Serve as an accompaniment to rice and other dishes.

Serves 6-8.


  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 12 sliced hot chilies
  • 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste (blacan)
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili paste
  • 3 tablespoons salted yellow beans
  • 4 tablespoons dark roasted coconut, finely ground
  • 500 g/1 lb fresh petai seeds or canned petai, drained
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 torch ginger bud, very finely sliced
  • or 4 tablespoons chopped Vietnamese mint


Heat oil and toss in curry leaves. After 30 seconds add chopped garlic and ginger and sliced chilies and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add blacan and fry, crushing it against the wok with back of frying spoon.

Add grated ginger and chili paste, salted yellow beans and roasted coconut. Add the petai and 1/2 cup water, stir into the spice mixture, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until petai are tender. Stir in sugar. Serve sprinkled with sliced ginger bud.

Red Coconut Sambal


  • 75 g/2 1/2 oz/1 cup fresh grated or desiccated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons pounded Maldive fish or dried prawns
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice If using desiccated coconut, sprinkle with
  • 3 tablespoons hot milk or water and toss to moisten.


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well, rubbing ingredients together. Serve in a small bowl, and if liked add a fresh chili, finely chopped.