sambal matah zoomed

How to Make Sambal Matah

Last Updated on March 26, 2024 by Damian

Welcome to this raw sambal recipe! Sambal matah is really nice to eat fresh with grilled fish or meats. Boosting flavors and balancing fat flavors with it’s freshness!

To make sambal matah, simply finely chop shallots, chillies and lemongrass and combine with some salt, oil and lime juice!

What is sambal matah?

Sambal matah is quite a spicy, raw sambal. Originating from Bali, Indonesia and directly translated as “raw sambal”. It includes shallots, bird’s eye chillies, lemongrass, lime juice and some oil. This Balinese sambal is super easy and quick to make, commonly used as a spread to top grilled fish or meats. I can highly recommend trying it out!

Let’s continue on how to make sambal matah!

Step 1: Collect the ingredients

sambal matah zoomed

Sambal matah

Raw sambal matah! Great for grilled foods like fish or meats.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Waiting time 10 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes
Course Sambal
Cuisine Indonesian
Servings 150 g
Calories 76 kcal


  • 3 shallots
  • 7 bird's eye chillies (various colors)
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp (sunflower) oil
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Collect the ingredients
  • Chop the shallots
  • Chop the chillies and lemongrass
  • Combine and (con)serve sambal matah
Keyword Sambal matah

What to consider when choosing the ingredients

For this recipe, alter the spiciness by choosing a certain amount of chillies or going for larger ones. Remove the seeds to reduce spiciness.

When making sambal for the first time, I can recommend following my ingredient list and removing seeds. This will already pack a great punch of spiciness. If you want to reduce the spiciness even further, hold back on 2 bird’s eye chillies and replace them with larger (~10cm), regular chili pepper.

Add the shallots or exchange them for another onion of your liking but I would recommend keeping the same chopping sizes. The structure of this sambal is what makes it so nice!

Lemongrass and lime perfectly challenge the spiciness and add freshness. Choose different ways to implement freshness, just keep in mind we are not cooking with heat so kaffir leaves for example might be harder to release its flavors.


You have some freedom here but keep in mind it’s only chopping, stirring, and adding hot oil and lime juice so you don’t have a lot of choices in the cooking process! Let’s have a look at what I did:

Step 2: Chop the shallots

Like I said, you want the shallots to be chopped finely! Peel the shallots, remove the ends and half them. Chop half rings very finely and use your fingers to separate the rings.

Chopped shallot

Add salt to the rings and stir well. Let this sit for about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Chop the chillies and lemongrass

Now take the chillies and roll them between your fingers. This will break up the seeds on the inside, making them fall out when chopped. Remove the stems and chop once or twice, depending on the size.

After roughly chopping them, add to a drainer and wash them thoroughly. The water should wash away any leftover seeds. After washing and removing the seeds, chop very fine rings.

Chopped chillies and lemongrass

Take the lemongrass, remove the top and bottom and take away outer leaves. Cut small rings, about the same amount as the chillies and add them together.

Step 4: Combine and (con)serve sambal matah

At this point, the onion and salt might need some more time to integrate. A few minutes before the mentioned 10 minutes of waiting, continue with this step.

Take a frying pan, add 3 tablespoons of (sunflower) oil and set to high heat. Let the oil heat up for about 3 or 4 minutes. Half the lime in the meantime.

If this is done, combine the chillies, lemongrass and shallots and stir well. Top up with the oil and squeeze the lime on top. Stir well again and serve immediately.

Combined ingredients
Combined ingredients topped with oil

Conserve in an airtight container but don’t leave it for too long. Eat tomorrow or the day after at best, always check the smell, taste and visual before eating to check if it’s spoiled!

As I said, serve this dish with grilled or fried meats or fish. You can also tryout different rice recipes, noodles, wraps, whatever you feel like should work if you ask me!

Tryout this sambal matah with my other recipes:

If you enjoyed this sambal, definitely checkout my other sambals:

I hope you enjoyed another great sambal recipe, let me know what you think and please leave a rating!

served sambal matah

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating