Sweet tomato sambal

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

The chilli fire is dialled back here by palm sugar sweetness. Sambal bajak would win hands down in any tomato chilli jam wars.


  • 200 g (7 oz) tomatoes
  • 2 large red chillies
  • 3 small red Asian shallots, peeled
  • 7 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark palm sugar (gula jawa)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste


Roughly chop the tomatoes, chilli (with the seeds) and shallot. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and cook the vegetables until soft and wilted.

Pound to a paste with a large pestle and mortar, adding the sugar, salt and tamarind paste. (You could use a food processor, but try not to lose the texture.) Return to the pan with the remaining oil and cook to reduce the liquid and turn the sambal a darker red. Spoon off the excess oil, if you like, and save it for cooking. Leave the sambal to cool.