press enter to search

Three common myths about Indonesian sambal

Jessicha Valentina
Jessicha Valentina

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, March 24, 2018  /  03:07 pm
Three common myths about Indonesian sambal

Kaum restaurant brand director Lisa Virgiano estimated that there are around 1,500 types of sambal in Indonesia. (Shutterstock/File)

Indonesians are obsessed with sambal. For locals, sambal is not merely a condiment, but also an integral part of Indonesian cuisine.

Kaum restaurant brand director Lisa Virgiano estimated that there are around 1,500 types of sambal in Indonesia.

Lisa reasoned that such a number was due to the fact that the country is home to 300 ethnicities. “Imagine if one ethnicity creates one sambal,” she said.

Sambal plays a crucial role in local cuisine, yet there are also some myths revolving around the condiment. During the launch of Kaum Jakarta’s (which was named the capital's restaurant of the year) new menu, Lisa gave a brief explanation about these sambal myths.

Sambal can only be made by one person

The most prevalent myth is that sambal can only be made by one person. Even if you see that the cook feels tired while crushing the chili, you should not offer to help as it may ruin the taste.

Lisa said that each cook has their own style and ngulek (crushing ingredients to make it into a paste) skills, resulting in different flavors.

Read also: Indonesia'€s sambal love affair some like it hot

Don’t make sambal while on a period

Lisa shared that there was a myth saying that women should not make sambal while on their period.

Lisa mentioned that the human body is made up of water and a period influences the body's condition and emotions.

Making sambal is not only about ingredients, pestle and mortar, said Lisa. To create a delicious sambal, one needs to have a feeling while mixing it. Hence, the flavor of sambal might be different when created during a period.

Don’t make sambal using the left hand

Lisa mentioned that the myth is related to local tradition. In Indonesia, the left hand is seen as the dirty hand as it is used for toilet duties.

“We were taught to use our right hand in any activity,” said Lisa. This tradition creates the assumption that one should not use the left hand to make sambal. (kes)