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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Sambal Ijo (Indonesian Green Chilli)
- 12 mild green chillies like jalapeños
- 2-3 birds eye chillies
- 2 green tomatoes or tomatillos
- 2 shallots
- 1 small garlic
- 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 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.