Sambal Matah with Spring Onions

In my almost daily search for new sambal recipes, I need to share this delicious sambal matah from Bali. It is a raw sliced sambal, that is not ground fine in a mortar but mashed by hand. It bears lovely citrussy flavors (kaffir lime, lime juice, and lemongrass) and is great in combination with fish dishes.

This website compares sambal matah with sambal dabu-dabu from south – Sulawesi, also a raw chili salsa that looks almost like sambal matah. Definitely have to make that one too.

sambal matah with shallots

On this blog I have collected over more than 25 sambal recipes to make at home. Go do the overview here.

Spring onions

Sambal matah is made with small shallots but I like to go for spring onions today. I have some left from martabak making yesterday and these crispy and light onions combine well with summer temperatures rising. It’s getting hot this week!

This recipe is enough for 3-4 people and is done in 10 minutes.

Recipe Sambal Matah – Chili salsa from Bali

Check out my video about sambal matah here, or read on for the recipe in text and pictures.


  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 chili peppers
  • 5 jeruk purut leaves (kaffir lime)
  • 1 teaspoon of trassi (fermented shrimp)
  • salt (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  1. Chop all the ingredients really finely and add to a bowl
  2. Mash it a little with your hands to blend it a bit
  3. Squeeze lime juice over it
  4. Pour boiling hot oil over your sambal and serve immediately

I use moderated spicy chili peppers and I even deseed them to take out the real heat. Balinese sambal is very spicy and sambal matah is often made with rawit peppers (one of the spiciest ones). Making sambal yourself gives you the opportunity to adjust the flavors exactly as you like. So taste it a lot while making this sambal, to get the perfect balance in taste.

Because this sambal is not ground in a mortar, you need to chop all the ingredients really fine. Take out the midrib part of the kaffir lime leaves; these are to hard to chew on.

Trassi is fermented shrimp paste and has a strong umami flavor. It is also pretty salty. I take about one teaspoon and cut it finely too, otherwise you eat a chunck of trassi and that is not nice.

I add everything to a bowl and then I just mash it up by hand. I squeeze it a bit to mix the flavors a bit. This is a great sambal to make when camping. You do not need much to prepare it and your hands will be a mortar. I do not overmix it, but I leave this sambal coarse as it is supposed to be.

I squeeze about the juice of half a lime over my sambal matah.

As a finishing touch, you can pour over boiling hot oil (careful!). That will blend in the flavors even more and will cook the ingredients just slightly. Sambal matah is also made without boiling hot oil, but just with some oil (about 2 tablespoons) that is poured over as a dressing.

I am totally surprised about this delicious sambal. It is so crunchy and the oil makes it a great sambal to eat it with plain or yellow rice. I sticks to everything and gives it this typical Balinese smell and flavor. I love citrus and kaffir lime and fresh lemongrass. All the great things from the tropics are combined in this sambal matah.

We eat it today with fish from the grill, nasi kuning and a coleslaw made with red cabbage. Delicious!

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