served sambal kemiri

How to Make Sambal Kemiri

Welcome to another wonderful sambal recipe! Sambal kemiri is a must try if you are into sambals, the first time tasting this Indonesian chili sauce you might be very impressed.

To make sambal kemiri, simply grind some of the main ingredients, fry it with spices and that’s it! Very simple, delicious recipe with a nice spice level.

What is sambal kemiri?

Sambal kemiri is a type of sambal which uses a lot of kemiri nuts, translated by candlenuts. The candlenut is high in oil content, making the nut suitable to burning, like a candle. It gives the sambal a creamy structure and very nice taste. Go try it out!

Let’s see how to make sambal kemiri:

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Step 1: Collect the ingredients

served sambal kemiri

Sambal Kemiri

Sambal Kemiri, one of my absolute favorite sambals! Really great in taste and structure, compatible with any dish to spice up!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Sambal
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 200 g


  • Food processor


  • 20 candlenuts
  • 1 onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 8 red chili peppers (~10cm)
  • 5 bird's eye chillies (cabe rawits)
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • some water

Spices (bumbu)

  • 4 kaffir leaves (lime leaves)
  • 2 tsp terasi (shrimp paste or powder)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • salt to taste


  • Collect the ingrdients
  • Roast the candlenuts
  • Grind the ingredients
  • Fry the sambal kemiri
  • Serve and store the sambal kemiri
Keyword Sambal kemiri

What to consider when choosing ingredients

Like for a lot of sambals, the freedom to play around with the ingredients might be quite limited. You can alter the ingredients of course but the outcome will be influenced quite heavily as compared to other main courses for example.

Starting with the main ingredients, choose whether to use more or less chillies to adapt spiciness. Always remember to remove seeds from the chillies, this will already takeaway a lot of the spiciness. Keep it if you want it to be very spicy.

Leave the candlenuts, onion and garlic as it is to make the authentic sambal kemiri. Exchange the candlenut for another one nut of your liking to make your own version, who knows what happens! I can imagine this can yield a great sambal variation.

The tamarind and spices are to balance the palate of the flavors, they are amongst my favorites to use in sambals, especially the kaffir leaves are very nice! Play around if you want, just keep in mind the outcome might be very different!

ingredients for sambal kemiri

Let’s continue with the steps to make sambal kemiri:

Step 2: Roast the candlenuts

Starting of by roasting the candlenuts, simply crush them with your knife to roast faster. Using a dry frying pan (no oil), add to medium high heat and let the candlenuts get a brown color. Be careful not to burn them!

Roasted candlenut

Turn off the heat and give the candlenuts time to cool down. Add the roasted candlenuts to your foodprocessor and grind to a paste. Like always, I highly recommend investing in a high quality food processor if you don’t have one yet. I use it so much in my recipes it’s a must have for your kitchen. Click here to order the one I use.

Remove the paste from the food processor and set aside.

candlenut paste

Step 3: Grind the ingredients

Following up with the ingredients, roll the chillies in between your hands to break up the seeds. This will let the seeds wash away easily after cutting. Chop the chillies roughly and wash them properly. Make sure the seeds wash away from the chopped chillies.

chopped and deseeded chillies

Peel the onion and garlic and chop them roughly. Add them to your foodprocessor along with the chillies. Grind into a paste.

grinding chillies, onion, garlic
ground ingredients

Step 4: Fry the sambal kemiri

Add a frying pan to medium-high heat and add some (sunflower) oil. Fry the ground chillies, onion, garlic and spices (without the tamarind paste) lightly. Don’t forget to stir.

fried ground ingredients
adding spices to fry

Throw in the candle nut paste, stir and let is fry some more.

fried chillies and spices
adding kemiri nuts to fry

Time to add the tamarind paste and water. Dissolve the tamarind paste in some water and throw it in!

fried ingredients and spices
adding tamarind paste to fry

Stir and let it simmer. The sambal kemiri is finished once the water is evaporated. The sambal now has a nice paste structure.

frying sambal kemiri
fried sambal kemiri

Step 5: Serve and store the sambal kemiri

That’s it for this amazing recipe! The sambal kemiri is now finished. Let it cool down and remove the kaffir leaves to store, or remove the kaffir leaves and serve hot if you feel like it!

served sambal kemiri

Just have a look at those amazing colors. The creamy structure beautifully displays the way this sambal tastes!

Serve this sambal with any rice recipe, soup, as a sandwich spread, with noodles, wraps, whatever! Again, I highly recommend this sambal as it’s one of my favorites!

Try the sambal out with the following recipes:

And also check out my other sambal recipes:

I hope you like this recipe, let me know what you think! If you try out this recipe, please leave a rating! Enjoy.


What do kemiri nuts taste like?

Kemiri nuts have a rich and oily texture, and their flavor is described as being slightly nutty and sweet. However, kemiri nuts should be used in moderation as they can be slightly bitter and toxic if consumed raw and in large amounts.

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