Chef Lara Lee's tomato sambal combines fresh long red chiles, sweetly acidic cherry tomatoes, and tangy tamarind paste in a delicious, nearly all-purpose condiment. Sambal, in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine, refers to condiments — usually ones that pack quite a bit of heat. Chef Lee's version is deliciously spicy on it's own, or slightly milder mixed with creamy mayonnaise. Try it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or anything fried and crunchy, or as a spread on a sandwich or burger. A spoonful stirred into a pot of soup or stew adds layers of flavor. The tomato sambal will keep for 3 months in the freezer and up to 2 weeks in the fridge.


Credit: Louise Hagger

Recipe Summary test

25 mins
25 mins
1 cup


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In a mortar and pestle or a food processor, place the chiles, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and ginger. Mash or pulse until a semi-fine paste forms (you don't want to make a puree — the sambal should have a little texture).

  • In a medium skillet, heat the oil over a medium. Add the spice paste to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the sambal darkens, is fragrant, and reduces to a thick consistency, 10 to 15 minutes. Mix in the tamarind paste and sugar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool.


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