Various recipes of sambals usually are served as hot and spicy condiments for dishes such as ikan bakar (grilled fish), ikan goreng (fried fish), ayam goreng (fried chicken), and soto. Sambal is a Malay loan-word of Javanese origin (sambel)
Preparation and availability
Traditional sambals are freshly made using traditional tools, such as stone pestle and mortar. Sambal could be served fresh and raw or cooked and fried, depends on each recipes. The chili pepper, garlic, shallot and tomato
are often freshly ground using mortar
, while the terasi or belacan (shrimp paste) is fried or burned first to kill its pungent smell as well as to release its aroma. Some households and restaurants often insists on making freshly-prepared sambal — just a few moments prior to consuming — in order to ensure its freshness and flavor; this is known as sambal dadak (lit. "sudden sambal"). However, most of sambal are prepared daily in a bulk and offered as hot and spicy condiment.
Today some brands of prepared, prepacked, instant or ready to use sambal are available in warung, traditional markets, supermarkets and convenience stores. Most are bottled sambal, with a few brands offer plastic or aluminum sachet packaging. Compared to traditional sambal, the bottled instant sambal often have finer texture, homogenous content and gloppy consistency, similar to those of tomato ketchup. This is because of its process using machine to ground the ingredients. Traditionally-made sambals that employ pestle and mortar usually have a coarse texture and consistency.
Varieties of chili
Fresh chilis are the main ingredient for a sambal.
The most common kinds of peppers used in sambal are:
1. Adyuma, also known as habanero: a very spicy, yellow, and block-shaped pepper.
3. Madame Jeanette: a yellow–light green, elongated, irregularly-shaped pepper.
4. Bird's eye chili
, also known as cabe rawit in Javanese: a very spicy, green–red, elongated pepper approximately 10 millimetres (0.39 in) wide and 50 millimetres (2.0 in) long.
5. Chili peppers known as lombok in Javanese: a mild, green–red, elongated pepper. Green chili peppers are milder than red ones.
6. Cabe taliwang: a pepper spicier than the Bird's eye chili, similar in spiciness to the naga jolokia, its name is supposedly the origin from which Lombok Island, or "the Island of the Chili", derives its name.