lynn-sambalDuring a month-long stay in Bali, I had the rare opportunity of attending a cooking class lead by a native Balinese chef. Beforehand,  we were introduced to the exotic ingredients we’d be using along with our equipment. “This,” the chef said, “is the Cuisinart our ancestors have used for thousands of years to make sambals, and we make them fresh every day.” Well, it isn’t every day you’ll find me, muscling away over a primitive pestle and mortar pummeling ingredients for lunch. But there I am. Fortunately, I do have a Cuisinart, which I regularly employ for such tasks. Since returning home, I use this fragrant, piquant curry for soups, sauces, rice, and vegetables.

Recipe notes: What you will need: Food processor, and med-large skillet. Active prep time 30-minutes. Cooking time 5-10 minutes. Yields 3-cups paste. Difficulty level: Moderate


  • 15 shallots
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1” piece ginger peeled
  • 2” galangal peeled [if unavailable substitute with ginger]
  • 2-stalks lemongrass white part only
  • 1-4” piece of fresh turmeric peeled
  • 1/2-cup fresh curry leaves [if unavailable omit]
  • 6-kaffir lime leaves (available in the freezer case of most Asian markets. If unavailable substitute with 1-Tbsp lime zest.)
  • 6-Fresno red chilies [if unavailable substitute with dry New Mexico chili pods hydrated in warm water]
  • 7-serrano chiles
  • 2-large Roma tomatoes
  • 2-tsp shrimp paste [optional] can be substituted with soy sauce or yellow bean sauce
  • 10-Macadamia nuts
  • 4-tbsp palm sugar
  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • 1/3-cup light vegetable oil



Remove the standard blade from the food processor and replace it with the shredding blade.

With the machine running, push ingredients through the chute.

Transfer ingredients to a bowl and replace the shredding plate with the standard blade.

Transfer ingredients back to the food processor.

With machine running, add oil to prevent ingredients from browning, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Continuing pulsing until the mixture resembles a smooth paste.



  • ¼-cup coconut oil
  • 1-stalk lemongrass bruised with a mallet or scored with a serrated knife
  • 4-kaffir lime leaves (if unavailable, used 1/2-Tbsp lime zest.)
  • 1-cup coconut milk


Sambal Paste:

  1. In a skillet heat coconut oil, add kaffir leaves and lemongrass, quickly stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove leaves and lemongrass.
  3. Add paste, frequently stirring until the mixture turns a reddish-golden color.
  4. Add coconut milk and taste. If too spicy, adjust with more coconut milk.
  5. Let cool before storing.

It can be used right away or frozen in ice-cube trays and kept in a zip-lock freezer bag.