Saucy Sambal Chicken

September 9, 2020 Updated: September 9, 2020

Saucy Sambal Chicken

This dish features a blend of chiles and aromatic ingredients often used in Indonesian dishes. We added coconut milk to create a curry, but the blend of chiles, salt, ginger, lemongrass, and lime can also be used as a seasoning paste for grilled chicken skewers and roasted meats. Just add a teaspoon of brown sugar to the mix.

Serves 4

  • 4 dried Thai bird’s eye chiles 
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 slice fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 1/2-inch piece lemongrass, white part only
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 strips lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cup (1 12-ounce can) coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste

Remove stems from the chile peppers. Place in a small bowl with water to cover; soak for a half hour. Drain.

Place chiles, coarse salt, ginger, lemongrass, lime juice, and lime zest in a food processor. Pulse to grind.

In a heavy, well-seasoned or nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat. Working in batches, sear the chicken pieces on each side and remove to a platter. Add the remaining oil and the chile mixture. Sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. 

Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes to the skillet. Continue cooking and stirring for 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add turmeric and coconut milk. Stir well. Return chicken to the pot. Add cardamom. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. 

Add cilantro and salt to taste. Serve over steamed rice.