Friday, 21 September 2012

Sweet Sambal Tumis

This was my first attempt at making sambal LOL!

Gave a small portion to my sister to try, and she ate two bowls of rice with just that.

Hubby also gave his thumbs up, and said the recipe is perfect for his local mission trip meals (easy to make and tasty).

Guess that means I passed :) Whew! 

Halfway through making this I almost gave up because :-

A. my finger tips felt like they were on fire - I had forgotten to put on gloves when de-seeding the dry chillies; and

B. whilst peeling the shallots, I was tearing away as if I was watching those tear-jerker Korean dramas. 

So yes, this dish sure came with a price.

BUT..if you have read my "About" page, I wrote about how I always look for shortcuts in my cooking, especially when it comes to recipes that are more laborious, and thus time consuming.  I reasoned that as long as the methods do not affect the taste, then that's fine.  After all, we are home cooks AND more often than not, human dishwasher, serving dishes that are appropriate for family meals, not professional chefs gunning for that coveted star.

And so it is that I found some short cuts to this on to find out what "cardinal sins" I have committed in this short cut version of a classic Malay condiment.

Some fried anchovies and fried egg;
and a simple nasi lemak is served.

Sweet Sambal Tumis
Adapted from Mummy, I can cook, Rasa Malaysia,Nasi Lemak Lover

  • 30g dried chillies
  • 200g rose shallots
  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • 10g ginger, sliced
  • 20g galangal, sliced
  • 25g garlic, peeled
  • 15g belacan
  • 3 stalk lemongrass, white parts only, sliced
  • 1/2 C water 
  • 1/2 C oil
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tbspn tamarind paste
  • 120g palm sugar / brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

1. Put all the ingredients (in italics) into the blender and bliz until it becomes a paste.

2. Heat the oil and gently fry the paste for about 30min until the oil separates from the paste.

3. Add the water, tamarind paste, sugar and salt.  Stir gently and adjust the taste.

4. Remove from fire and let it cool down before pouring into clean jars.

Makes about 500ml.


Most recipes call for boiling the dry chilies, toasting the belacan, dry frying the mixture and then frying with oil for another 40min.

I didnt do any of the above ;P

It all went into the blender, and then straight into the pan with the oil.

You would also notice that my recipe has no fresh chillies or bird's eye chillies. Gasp!!

I can hear some spicy afficionadoes saying "How can?? Sambal that is not spicy is NOT sambal!" 

:) :)

Well, the level of spiciness is really a matter of personal preference.  If you like it HOT, then by all means add as much heat as you like.  I used to be able to take very spicy foods until last year, when I had a really bad bout of viral throat infection.  It took me four months to recover, and my throat has been quite sensitive to spicy and heaty foods since then.  The amount of dry chilies listed here will give the sambal its deep rich red hue, and provide just a touch of spiciness; which is just nice for my hubby and I.  

Do also note that this sambal is on the sweet side.  Reduce the amount of sugar if you prefer it on the more savoury side.  


  1. The way I do is also straight into the oil :)

  2. Esther, just looking at your sambal is making my mouth water!! Can I please have some the next time you make? :)

  3. Esther, don't worry. We all also pakai shortcut lah. I agree with you, as long as it still taste good, no problems! Love your sambal. I should make some too.

    1. Thanks PH. I am sure you too have a few gems of a sambal recipe in your possession :)

  4. i love sambal and yours is definitely worth trying!
    i have just made sambal which required me to peel 160g of shallots and 100g large yellow onion
    after all peeling and chopping done, my eyes were so red and teary i couldnt open them up! LOL

    1. Alice, that is ALOT ALOT of peeling and chopping! Oh my! You should get a pair of those plastic shield glasses - can get from hardware shop, very cheap. Looks like those worn by construction workers, very handy !

  5. Hi Esther, the sambal looks tasty! May I know how long it can be kept?

  6. Hi Stephanie, this is goodup to a month for maximum freshness.

  7. Thanks for your shout-out, nowadays i also cook shortcut way, hehehe..

    1. You hv got great recipes Sonia. Thanks for sharing them :)

  8. Hi, thanks for directing me to your blog. Your pictures are beautiful and mouth-watering.

  9. Hi Esther thanks for sharing this recipe I'm making it at the moment but I'm quite confused if I should remove the seeds or just measure 30 grams straight then put in blender? I don't see seeds in yours! Im so excited being out of Singapore sucks when you miss the food so much!

    1. Hi Katherine, i de-seeded the chilies so it is not too spicy. Depends on how hot you like your sambal. Thanks for dropping by and I hope you like this recipe 😀


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