Popular throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and southern India, a sambal is a multipurpose condiment. Its most basic form is sambal oelek, a simple mixture of chiles, brown sugar and salt. Another popular blend is sambal bajak (or badjak), which adds candlenuts, garlic, onion, trassi, galangal, tamarind concentrate and coconut milk. Sambals have a multitude of variations, however, depending on the ingredients added, which can include coconut, meat, seafood or vegetables. Sambals are usually served as an accompaniment to rice and curried dishes, either as a condiment or as a side dish. Sambal oelek and bajak, as well as some variations, can be found in Indonesian and some Chinese markets.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.