Crushed Red Chillies with Salt

Sambal Ulek

This is the basis of all the sambals that Indonesians use, either as a hot relish or for spicing a cooked dish. You can buy it in jars, usually made in the Netherlands and labelled sambal oelek.

However, if you have a food processor this is quite an easy sambal to make at home, and of course it will be much better value. Make plenty, and you can pack it in plastic bags and freeze it, or keep it for up to 2 weeks in an airtight jar in the fridge. For small quantities, see below. If you want the sambal less hot, discard the seeds of the chillies.


  • 450 g/1 lb red chillies, stalks removed
  • 510 ml/1 pint/ cups water
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp mild vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp peanut or soya oil
  • 6–8 tbsp boiled water


Put the chillies in a saucepan and cover them with the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, and put the chillies in the blender with salt, vinegar and sugar (if used). (You may need to do this in batches.) Add the peanut or soya oil and the boiled water, and blend until smooth.