Balinese Raw Sambal Matah

Sambal, spicy condiments found across Indonesia (and Malaysia and Singapore), come in as many styles and variations as there are cooks in the archipelago. The island of Bali is known for sambal matah, a raw, slaw-like sambal of chiles, shallots, makrut lime or Key lime juice, and coconut oil, often mixed by hand. It's hot, slightly crunchy, tart, rich, and an ideal base for other ingredients, which, depending on the cook's preference, might include terasi, lemongrass, or sweet and floral torch ginger buds. This version from Indonesian photographer Dewandra Djelantik and his mother, Ibu, features roughly equal proportions of chiles and shallots and gets extra zip from lemongrass and citrus juice. Red Kashmiri chiles are mild, similar to poblano. Try pairing it with Balinese Grilled Chicken.

Balinese Raw Sambal Matah
Photo: Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Marian Cooper Cairns / Prop Styling by Natasha Kolenko
Total Time:
15 mins


  • 2 shallots (about 3 ounces), thinly sliced

  • 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 (8-inch-long) fresh red Kashmiri or other mild red chile, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced (about 2 tablespoons)

  • 5 fresh red Thai chiles (about 1 ounce), stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 1 (4- to 6-inch-long) lemongrass stalk (inner white part only), thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1 tablespoon fresh makrut lime juice, calamansi juice, or Key lime juice


  1. Place shallots and 1 tablespoon salt in a small bowl; massage using your hands until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add enough water to cover shallots. Move shallots around in water using your hands for about 30 seconds to rinse off salt. Drain shallots.

  2. Place drained shallots, Kashmiri chile, Thai chiles, and lemongrass in a medium bowl. Add melted coconut oil to shallot mixture. Stir together using a spoon (or mix by hand) until well combined. Stir in lime juice and remaining 1/2 tablespoon salt.

Make Ahead

Sambal can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.


Find Kashmiri and Thai chiles and lemongrass at South Asian or Indian markets or at

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