Balinese Kitchen Secret: Sambal Matah

If you are familiar with Balinese food you may encounter the delicious Sambal Matahwhich literally means Raw Sambal. This type of sambal is one of the best kinds of sambal you will ever taste, when done properly.

Many alternatives recipes have arisen, substituting coconut oil with palm oil, using regular lime instead of Kaffir lime and the biggest sin of all, omitting shrimp paste altogether from the recipe. It is not unusual to recreate and reinvent a classic dish but preserving the original recipe is a must.

Below is how the Balinese mothers would make their sambal, a non apologetic recipe that doesn’t call for removing the pit of the chili because sambals are meant to be hot and spicy and the use of two types of chilies because each chili gives a different taste and heat intensity.


  • 3 Pcs. Garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 Pcs. Kaffir lime leaf, finely sliced 
  • 8 Pcs. Shallot, finely sliced, not chopped
  • 8 Pcs. Bird eye chili, thinly sliced
  • 4 Pcs. Red chili, sliced
  • 1 Tsp. Shrimp paste, grilled until fragrant
  • 2 Stalks Lemon grass, use only the tender part, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tsp. juice of Kaffir lime
  • ½ Tsp. zest of Kaffir lime
  • 50 Ml. Coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

  1. Grab a clean bowl and grease your hand with coconut oil
  2. Place grilled shrimp paste and salt into bowl, mix thoroughly with your hand. Yes, your bare hand without gloves or spoon. The coconut oil will protect your skin from the heat. This method is called Bejek. If you are not comfortable please feel free to use a spoon
  3. Add the chilies, shallots and lemon grass. Mix gently until the shallots are soft and moist.
  4. Finish your sambal with the juice and zest of Kaffir lime and coconut oil.
  5. Taste your sambal and adjust the salt if needed.

If you are mixing the sambal with your hand, please remember to wash your hand to avoid any discomfort.
Sambal Matah is the perfect pairing for grilled seafood and chicken. Master this sambal recipe and you can have a little taste of Bali anywhere you travel.

This recipe is tested at Warung Damar.

Warung Damar serves authentic Indonesian and Balinese cuisine everyday from 11.00-23.00. 


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