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Indonesian Inspired Tomato Sambal Recipe

This Indonesian inspired Tomato Sambal is a delicious condiment to have on hand at all times to jazz up meals and snacks. 

When we lived in Indonesia briefly, Sambal was one of my favourite Indonesian dishes, Tomato Sambal specifically. Sambal, is a sauce either made from fried (goreng) or raw (matah) ingredients, and nearly always loaded with flavour, fragrance and chili!

Sambal is a key element in the Indonesian staple of rice-based meals, and can vary greatly depending on the region the Sambal is from. From roasted smoky eggplant to dried shrimp, coconut, lemongrass, Tomato Sambal is my favourite. This is the watered down, Western version we make in our home as unfortunately fresh chili and some more authentic Indonesian ingredients have been harder to come by as we’ve moved around.

How to use Sambal? Endlessly. Use it on top of roasted veggies, on eggs, with rice of course, in and on sandwiches, or simply dip into it with bread. This is such a flavoursome and versatile sauce, simply make a big batch and use it all week long in countless ways (if it lasts that long!).


Indonesian Inspired Tomato Sambal Recipe

Makes about one and a half cups


400 – 410g/ 5 small ripe tomatoes, roughly diced

15g macadamias or almonds, crushed in a mortar and pestle to a crumb size

15g/4 garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press

20g/2 spring onions, thinly sliced (use white and light green ends, discard green tops)

75ml quality olive oil for frying, plus extra

Sea salt 

Cracked pepper to taste



1/2 tsp dried chili flakes (or more depending on your taste), or fresh sliced chili (to your taste)



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In a medium sized non-stick frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat


Once the oil has heated up, add the spring onions and pressed garlic and fry the mixture together until the spring onions and garlic just start to turn golden in colour – around four to five minutes


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After this, add the roughly diced tomatoes, the macadamias and a generous pinch of sea salt, and cracked pepper to taste. If you would like to use fresh chili, add it here as well (for the dried chili flakes, add later in two steps)


This next part is what I call the meditative section of the recipe, where you fry the ingredients in the frying pan, mixing through here and there until everything reduces to a delicious oily sauce/fried dip of sorts


Keep an eye on the oil. If the tomatoes look dry/need more cooking, continue to add oil as needed until the tomatoes completely soften. This process takes around 20 – 30 minutes, hence my referring to it as the ‘meditative section’. If using dried chili flakes, mix them through here just before the tomatoes have completely softened


Finally, taste the Tomato Sambal and adjust salt, pepper and chili levels if needed. Once the tomatoes have completely softened and you’re happy with the flavour balance, take the Tomato Sambal off the heat, and allow to cool slightly before serving/using.



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