I think it is originated from Central Java, Indonesia. Well, it is very popular and I remembered when I visited Jakarta in the early 80s, I tasted this sambal when I was in the Coffee House at the Hilton Hotel. When I returned to Singapore, I was still carrying the taste of the sambal. I asked my late great granny (a Peranakan) about this sambal and she immediately shared with me her recipe. I have been using this recipe for years but I have never documented this.
A couple days ago, my husband wanted to eat some pan-fried snapper for dinner but he wanted it with some sambal, so I decided to use this sambal to enhance the snapper. That is how I could document this recipe. I should thank my husband for asking and in the end I could share with all of you.
3 tomatoes, diced
1 thumb-size galangal, washed and crushed
5 pieces salam leaves (Indonesian bay leaf)
1 stalk lemon grass, clean of leaves and remove the top; crushed
1 large lime, juiced
¾ teaspoon salt
15-18 red finger chilies
3 tablespoons Gula Melaka/Jawa, if unavailable replace with dark brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons belacan/shrimp paste
9 tablespoon canola/vegetable/corn oil
Heat a wok with canola/vegetable/corn oil over medium-high heat, add the seasoning paste and saute until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, galangal, salam leaves (Indonesia bay leaf), crushed lemongrass and salt. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the tomatoes and the mixture reduce into a thick sauce. Serve this sambal with fish, chicken, noodles, salads and rice.