Spicy Sambal 101: Ever Wondered Why It Is Getting Sweeter?

sambal spicy nasi lemak

(Ever wondered why the “spicy” sambal is getting sweeter these days? It is a disgrace to the very reason why we have many types of sambal in our dishes the first place. Image source: Wikipedia)

I guess somewhere in the universe, some planets or stars must have crossed paths and the nasi lemak sellers down in Malaysia have decided to put more sugar (instead of chilly) into the “must-have” deadly concoction.

Last weekend, we woke up and had an urging desire to have nasi lemak for breakfast. So we went on a nasi lemak hunt – our usual stall manned by a friendly Orang Asli was closed. We drove around and found one stall manned by an old makcik. As we were busying order, the makcik asked a question to us – “you want the sweet or spicy sambal?”. That question, however, caught us off-guard and left us wondering who in their mind would be pouring sugar instead of chilly into this must-have side dish.

All this while, all we know the “criteria” of sambal is that it must be red in colour, have plenty of chilly and it is hot & spicy. Now we are hearing “sweet” where it still looks reddish, have plenty of chilly but instead of being hot and spicy, it is sweet and in the real sense, tasteless.

Faced with the question “you want the sweet or spicy sambal?” our choice was too obvious. But sadly, the “spicy sambal” that the makcik had was not that spicy – it still had plenty of sugar in it and we felt cheated. Truly, a big letdown so early in the morning.

But at least the makcik provided us with a choice. The other place I often go to does not even have a choice. Their mainstay option is the sweet sambal which probably explains why their nasi lemak is one of the least popular dishes in their menu. Their curry is spicier than their sambal and with a load of curry; their santan rich nasi lemak gets some “pride” back.

To make good on the “losses” on not getting the spicy sambal these days, what we do is that to cook up really spicy sambal at least once a week – really spicy in the sense that we can feel “fire” in the mouth.

We have been having way too much sugar in our spicy dishes on the outside.

8 thoughts on “Spicy Sambal 101: Ever Wondered Why It Is Getting Sweeter?

  1. That must be around Bukit Puchong, right? Why not try Indian stall somewhere near Batu 14?

    I have same opinion with you but I don’t mind eating sambal which is ‘slightly’ sweet as long as it is tasty. My wife will get really mad if she gets nasi lemak with sweet sambal. She won’t touch.

    1. Wow, that’s right – it looks like not many Orang Asli nasi lemak sellers left. I occasionally pass by Batu 14 – need to check out the Indian stall. My wife still tolerates “sweet sambal” but sometimes too much of it get on her nerve too.

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