Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sambal Goreng Tomat (fried chilli & tomato relish)

Everyone who has tried Mrs K's chilli sauces has fallen in love with them. Here's how she makes one variety, a quick and simple sauce that she calls sambal goreng tomat (sambal = chilli sauce, goreng = fried, tomat = take a wild guess).

There are endless varieties of sambal - we hope to cover some of these in future posts. There are also endless conflicting descriptions on the web about what sambal goreng actually is - but we don't care; this is Mrs K's blog, and what she says goes. So there.

All the ingredients should be readily available in any supermarket, but remember that none of the quantities are critical - experiment as you feel fit. These quantities will produce about 3-4 jam jars of sauce, and the cooking time's about 45 minutes. One added bonus of the dish is that it gives you a supply of delicious chilli-flavoured oil that you can use for cooking.


  • 250g red chillies (as hot as you like)
  • 100g small green chillies (ditto)
  • 100g shallots
  • 200g tomatoes (any kind)
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • Ginger (about 2cm of root)
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stick of lemon grass
  • 500ml sunflower oil
  • 1 level dessert spoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons sugar


Cut the chillies, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, onion and shallots into coarse chunks. Put these in a blender and process them to a coarse paste - Mrs K only has a small Kenwood blender, so she does several batches. She's using cherry tomatoes in this case, simply because that's what was in the fridge, but any variety is fine. Don't over-blend, the paste should look something like this.

Pour the sunflower oil into a wok (or large saucepan) and put it on a medium heat. Put the paste into the oil with the bay leaves and kaffir lime leaves. Bruise the lemon grass and pop it whole into the wok (Mrs K likes to tear a strand off, use it to tie the lemon grass in half and bash it with a wooden spoon first. We all have our foibles).

Simmer the paste gently in the oil, stirring it fequently to stop it burning - if it does burn a bit, you'll see little black bits start to appear, don't worry these won't spoil it.

Here's a short low-res video of the sambal bubbling away. Pity you can't smell it...

As you can see in the video, after gently simmering for about 40 minutes, you'll notice the paste starts to darken a little, losing the bright redness of the chilli. This means it's ready. Take it off the heat and leave to cool for half an hour or so.

Now you can skim off the oil and put it into a separate container. This chilli oil is perfect for cooking almost anything - roast meat and roast potatoes taste great with a bit of it, as do sausages. You can strain the oil if you wish, but Mrs K just uses a small ladle to put it into bottles. Don't remove all the oil - leave the sambal wet but not swimming in oil. Mrs K usually manages to retrieve about half the original quantity of oil.

You can store the sambal in bottles (avoid plastic containers, it will probably stain them) - it should store for 3-4 weeks in a fridge. Remember when taking it out of the bottle to use a clean spoon - don't put one that you've licked back into the bottle. This will help it stay fresh longer.