Having lived in Singapore for more than a decade has made me develop a sense of love and respect for its cuisine and culture. It is one such country where you can taste the whole world without even leaving the island. The whole idea of “Sambal” predominantly belongs to Malaysia. Due to the high concentration of Malay population in Singapore, Malaysian food has always played a significant role in influencing the gourmet culture of this nation. Hence undoubtedly SAMBAL is quite popular in Singapore. It is basically a blend of fresh chillies or dried red chillies. In order to mellow down the spiciness imparted from the chillies, ingredients such as tomatoes and lime juice are heavily used in sambal dishes. Sambal can be used to prepare almost any dish, namely a few being Sambal Ayam (Chicken), Sambal Udang (Prawns), Sambal Telur (Egg sambal) and even Sambal Ikan (Fish). It’s a fiery dish mostly enjoyed with white rice. So that pretty much says it all – sambal is a popular condiment in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and is the basic building block for Malaysian food.
Traditionally Sambal Chicken is prepared with a huge amount of oil. However, when I make this at home, I try to keep the usage of oil to as minimal as possible and yet it’s super delicious. The chicken is marinated for a few hours with turmeric and ginger garlic paste. All said and done, this recipe is a keeper. When you are in a mood to eat something super spicy, sambal will be a winner to keep you up and running behind a glass of water after every bite. 😀 Just kidding!! But hey, keeping aside the heartburn which might look scary, occasional spice attacks are good for you! Not a fan of crazy spicy food? Just add in more tomatoes and lime juice to cut down the level of heat. I always feel good after having spicy food; you see spicy foods like sambal generate feel-good hormones, at least they certainly have a positive impact on me!! 😀
Chicken – 1/2 kg
Dried red chillies – 8-10 (depending on how much heat you can handle)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Onion – 1 large
Garlic cloves – 6-7
Ginger- 1 large piece
Tomatoes – 2 large finely chopped
Cinnamon sticks – 2-3
Star anise – 1
Coconut milk – 2 tbsp
Lemongrass – 1 stalk
Lime juice – juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt – as per taste
Soak the dried red chillies in luke warm water for at least 30 mins. Make a fine paste of it using very little water.
Marinate the chicken with turmeric and ginger-garlic paste for at least an hour.
Blend the onions, ginger and garlic into a fine paste using little water.
Heat some oil in a pan. Add the cinnamon sticks and star anise. (forgot to click the star anise !)
Add the paste of the onions, ginger and garlic. Cook for a few mins on high heat. Then add in the dried chilli paste.
Mix well and cook for a few mins. Then add in the chopped tomatoes. Cook this down until the tomatoes are mushy and it forms a nice saucy base for the dish.
Then add in the marinated chicken. Mix well and cook for a few mins on high heat with the lid open.
Add the coconut milk and a stalk of the lemongrass. Add salt and mix well.
Cover the pan and cook for at least 20 mins or until the chicken is well done.
In the end add the lemon juice. Do a taste test to check the seasoning.
Sambal chicken will be ready to serve. Carefully remove the lemongrass stalk before serving.
Serve this delicious sambal chicken with cooked rice and enjoy the flavors of beautiful Sambal. Believe me, you will feel as if you are enjoying the taste of Singapore and Malaysia within the comforts of your home!