Sambal Matah

Chef Lara Lee's Sambal Matah is bright and fresh, packed with lemongrass, lime, chiles, and ginger. Sambal refers to a group of Indian and South Asian condiments, usually based on a mix of hot chiles and fresh aromatics like shallots and ginger. Use this version as a relish with noodles or fried rice, or to accompany fish, a steak, or fritters. While its best the day it is made, Sambal Matah can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Sambal Matah
Photo: Louise Hagger
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
10 mins
1 cup


  • 4 small shallots, thinly sliced

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 lemongrass stalks, pounded slightly, trimmed, tough outer layers removed, bottom third thinly sliced

  • 2 long red chiles (such as Holland or 1 large Fresno), finely chopped, (seeds removed if you prefer less heat)

  • 1 1½-inch piece ginger, peeled, cut into matchsticks

  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

  • 2 makrut lime leaves, stem removed and thinly sliced, or zest of 1 regular lime

  • Zest and juice of 1 makrut lime or 1 regular lime

  • Coconut sugar or brown sugar

  • Sunflower oil or other neutral oil (for drizzling)


  1. Place shallots in a small bowl. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Let sit for at least 15 minutes to take the raw edge off of them.

  2. In a medium bowl, add the shallots, lemongrass, chiles, ginger, garlic, makrut lime leaves, makrut lime zest and juice, a pinch of salt and coconut sugar. Drizzle with oil and toss to evenly distribute. Taste and season with more salt, sugar, and/or lime juice if needed.


Adapted with permission from Coconut & Sambal by Lara Lee, copyright © 2020. Published by Bloomsbury. Photography copyright: Louise Hagger © 2020.

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