My favourite Nasi Lemak Sambal Chilli

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I have been cooking various types of Sambal chilli for Nasi Lemak and I have settled on this recipe which I like the most. And trust me, making a good sambal is not difficult.

Slices of large red onions and fried ikan bills is added towards the end. The onions introduce texture and the ikan bilis adds salty and umami flavours to the sambal.

As I have detailed elsewhere, the sambal chilli for Nasi Lemak is on the sweeter side, with a tinge of salty and sour undertone. Just don't overdo it as too much sweetness can mask other flavours.

  • 60 pieces of dried chilies or 300ml of chilli paste
  • 20 pieces of peeled shallots 
  • 2 large onions, sliced 
  • 3 tsp of Gula Melaka 
  • 3 tsp of sugar
  • A bowl of oil (about 250 ml)
  • 100 gm of ikan bilis (without heads and inner parts)
  1. Blend your peeled shallots coarsely.
  2. Blend your chillies finely. 
  3. Fry the ikan bilis in the oil. About 1-2 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Using the oil leftover from frying the ikan bilis, heat it up in a wok and add the shallot paste. Gently fry for about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the chilli paste.
  6. Add the sugar and Gula Melaka.
  7. Simmer for another 15 minutes. 
  8. Add the slices of large onions and the fried ikan bills. Mix. 
Remove and set aside. Let it cool down. As you do so, the large onions will cook further. I prefer my chilli to to have some "kick" and often, I will add blend some chilli padi in (bird's eye chillies).

The sambal can be stored in a jar and fridged. The ikan bilis will not be crispy but it will absorb the chilli. And the taste gets better with time as the flavours meld together.

When paired with pandan-flavored coconut rice, it is one of those wonderful contributions of Malay cuisine to the world.

Sungguh sedap.

And did I fail to mention that squeezing some lime on it will make the sambal sub-lime? (pardon the pun)

Frying the blended shallots.

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  1. Hi,

    May I check how much ikan bilis is required? And fry before frying the chilli?

  2. I don't even have to eat to know that this sambal is absolutely delicious.

  3. is that teaspoon or tablespoon?

  4. Hi, I made a bottle of sweet sambal tumis. Do you think I can reheat the sambal and mix it with the onions and ikan bilis?


  5. Hi, what type of ikan bilis to use? Thank you for sharing.

  6. Do I need to soak dry chilli in hot water b4 blending?

  7. Housewife- yes, need to soak to rehydrate the chilli

  8. Wonderfull. I cannot resist, I'm going to prepare it.! Thank you very much

  9. Thanks for the blog I have been writing an essay about this and it's coolest blog.thanks for the info. BY CREAMPUFF