Sambal is a red pepper paste used in the Asian cuisine. Many different types of sambal exist, each with slightly different ingredients.

It is difficult to discern the differences if you are not used to spicy food; I suggest you try a type that contains fried peppers (e.g. Sambal Manis or Sambal Brandal) since these are less spicy. Frying the peppers breaks down the capsaicin, which is the protein that is responsible for the spicyness.

Some common types of sambal are:

  • Oelek: very spicy version containing fresh red peppers and salt
  • Badjak: fried red peppers with garlic, onions and spices
  • Tjampoer: fresh red peppers with shrimp flour, onions, garlic and spices
  • Brandal: milder type of sambal with fried peppers, onions and Indonesian spices
  • Manis: a mild, sweet samal with fried peppers, sugar, salt and Indonesian spices.