While I’m not much of a spicy food fan, I do love flavours that pack a punch..once in every while. Whether you eat them or not, it is certainly very hard to resist the vibrantly beautiful fresh red chillies in the vegetable market these days! So armed with a small bunch of these beauties, I set out to make a couple jars of our favourite Sambal Oelek chilli sauce.
Sambal Oelek is a popular Indonesian chilli sauce/paste. It’s also a staple in Malaysian and Thai cuisine. This sauce is ready in minutes and barely takes any effort. The results are way better than any bottled sauce you may have tried. It’s spicy, yet very fresh and bright. Its got a touch of sugar to balance the heat, lemongrass and vinegar to give it that characteristic zing. I did deseed most of the chillies, but you can keep them intact if you prefer a more fiery version.
The ingredients here are pretty straightforward. If you don’t have lemongrass, add a squeeze of lemon juice and some zest too. Purists, please forgive me! But when we want to make food from scratch, sometimes we need to make do with what’s available immediately. The process is as simple as blending all ingredients in the food processor, till chunky or use a mortar pestle. Then cooking on the stove top for about 10 minutes and that’s it!
I love how versatile this sauce is. You can use it as a dipping sauce, for serving alongside your meal as a chutney. A couple of spoonfuls add pizzazz to fried rice, noodles, soups, stir-fry veggies. Kick up your mayonnaise and yogurt dips a notch by mixing in some Sambal Oelek! You can even use this for marinating chicken, fish, paneer or tofu as I did in the picture below.