Today’s recipe, Sambal Ijo, is one of my favourite South East Asian condiments, for its flavour, its colour and its heat.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Table of contents
What is Sambal?
There is no direct translation for the Malay/Indonesian word “sambal”. It can be both a dry-ish type of condiment or something with a little bit of sauce meant to be eaten as a side dish. However, in both instances, they will be spicy.
Sri Lankans have the same thing too, spelled “sambol”, the most famous being “Pol Sambal”, a spicy condiment with a grated coconut base.
This Sambal Ijo is a very green condiment, the colour comes from the green birds eye chillies and green tomatoes used, although I go a step further by adding some coriander (cilantro) leaves to my recipe too. Sambal Ijo is traditionally eaten as a condiment but also wonderful as a topping and a marinade.
Ijo is the Indonesian word for green, in Malay, it is hijau.
Sambal Ijo Ingredients
Chillies for Sambal Ijo
Traditionally, this is a very spicy recipe as it’s meant to be a spicy condiment. However, you can make it milder by using jalapeños or a mixture of jalapeños and birds eye, as long as they’re green.
When making chilli pepper condiments, I love to go for a heat range that allows me to enjoy the actual flavour of the dish too, not just aim for debilitating heat! Know what I mean? Of course, one man’s heat is another man’s… ! So, if you’re not sure what you can handle, start low!
Tomatoes for Sambal Ijo
Your tomatoes have to be green, it is sambal ijo, after all! Those of us not in the tropics, summertime is the only time we can find green, unripe tomatoes.
I also love to use tomatillos (image above) in this recipe in mid to late summer, as I grow them every year. Tomatillos are very tart, and add an extra zing to our Sambal Ijo.
If you can’t find fresh green tomatoes, see if you can find a Mexican grocer/shop and look for their canned tomatillos – perfect!
How to Make Sambal Ijo
Super easy. All we do is:
- Chop all the main ingredients in a chopper
- Fry in a little oil
- Transfer to a jar
Sterilising Jars for our Sambal Ijo (if you are so inclined)
- Turn the oven on to a cool 130˚C/250˚F/Gas Mark ½.
- Wash the jar and lid in hot soapy water.
- Place the jar and lid upside down in the oven and leave them to dry, with the door closed for 15 minutes.
- Turn the oven off and leave the jar and lid in there, bringing them out only when you are ready to fill. Be careful, as they’ll be hot.
More Hot Recipes on LinsFood
You’ll find more spicy condiment recipes on The Chilli Page, as well as articles on some of the chillies I’ve grown over the years. On top of that, you can also read up on spicy shop bough chilli pastes, like Doubanjiang.
Images by LinsFoodies
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And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood
Sambal Ijo (Indonesian Green Chilli)
- 1 Knife
- 1 Chopping board
- 1 Food chopper
- spoon aas needed
- jar for storage
- 12 mild green chillies like jalapeños
- 2-3 birds eye chillies
- 2 green tomatoes or tomatillos
- 2 shallots
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1 small handful fresh coriander (cilantro)
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 Tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
- 1 tsp white sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- juice of half a lime
- Place all ingredients A in a food chopper and chop to a coarse blend. You could also go for a smooth blend here but I think the sambal tastes so much better with texture.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan or small wok on medium heat.
- Sauté the chopped ingredients, adding the sugar and salt in. Stir occasionally, you’ll be cooking this for about five minutes, by which time that lovely aroma will be filling up your kitchen.
- Take off the heat and stir the lime juice in.
- Transfer to a clean jar and it should keep for a week in the fridge.
30 thoughts on “Sambal Ijo (Easy Indonesian Green Chilli Paste)”
Ijo is green in JAVANESE.
HIJAU is green in both Indonesian and Melayu.
It is a word that is used not just in Java but many other parts of Indonesia. And what do you think Javanese (people) are?
What’s a chopper please? Food processor? Stick mixxer?
And what’s a small garlic? Cove or head?
Hi Ziggy, I wrote this article about 7 years ago. Everything you’ve asked is much clearer in my posts these days!
Chopper – little food processor that will chop things up (instead of blend). What you would use instead of a pestle and mortar.
And it’s garlic clove.
I love spice, especially a chilli paste. Anything hot I am all over it.
Ooooh! This sounds like it would add flavor to a lot of different things. I love ethnic foods, and I have to test this out!
Thank you, let me know how it goes, if you do.
I can see how this would be very versatile as a sauce for many of my foods. I always love things which kick the spice quotient up a bit. Looks delicious and easy to make.
It certainly is.
Oh so it can be dry. I though sambal is only saucy. We love chili sauces. My husband would like this. Too bad we do not have a lot of choices for chili varieties in my city.
Yes, indeed, you learn something very day, right?
I never heard about it before need to check it out.
Yum! Looks delicious and that also seem to be easy to make. I’ve never tried that food before but it sounds worth trying and tasting. 🙂
Sambal Ijo sounds great. I will love to try this recipe for sure. Thanks for sharing.
here is a very nice recipe to accompany barbecue grills. I’ll have to try. Thank you
Thanks for introducing to a new recipe . I’m surely going to try this as a side dippings.
The hotter the better for my mom in law. She would love this recipe
Spicy recipes are my favorite! Whenever I’m having grilled meats or barbecue, such spicy eats are usually part of the toppings. And yes, Sambal Ijo looks like something I’d really want to try too.
What a great idea this is for a chilli paste. It looks delicious and so quick and easy to do!
Haven’t tried any recipe only with chilli since a long time. I need to try it out. Moreover I loved the nutrition facts.
Ohhh I love chili! Just hoarded some from my last trip to Singapore. Must try making it!! Thanks for this!
I love spicy and love green chili paste. This would be perfect for spicing up my dinners, especially nachos!
I never heard of this before but it looks and sounds absolutely delicious!!! I will definitely be giving this a try!
Fabulous! I now know what to do with all those green ones at the end of the season!
This is a really good recipe for all those green peppers that won’t be ripening now. Thanks Azlin!
Will this recipe freeze well? I have a ton of Portugal peppers and green tomatoes from the garden. Thank you.
Absolutely! It’ll work really well in small amounts. The other alternative is to store it in sterilised jars and giving the jars a water bath. Great hostess/Christmas gift.