The unique sweet and savoury tastes of Coconut Sambal

Coconut Sambal is almost dessert-like in flavour but is delicious when paired with savoury dishes.

Coconut Sambal is a great condiment to make when you’re using a lot of fresh coconut milk in your dishes, especially if you get your coconut milk from the market and need to purchase it according to the number of actual coconuts instead of by weight.

Made with leftover desiccated coconut, Coconut Sambal has a savoury-sweet flavour that is delightful on the palate.

While one can easily eat spoonfuls of it on its own, it’s best enjoyed with contrasting or bland savoury flavours like Nasi Impit, Lemang, glutinous rice or just regular white rice.

It also adds extra texture if you pair it with Rendang and other local dishes. We’re pretty sure it’ll taste good over vanilla ice cream too!

Note that there are different types of Coconut Sambal out there, including those that are very spicy.

This recipe is on the other end of the spectrum and is suitable for kids and those with a more sensitive palate.

Ingredients: Serves 8-10

  • 200g desiccated coconut
  • ½ cup dried shrimp, soaked
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 + 2 tbsp white sugar
  • ½ cup cooking oil


  • Blend soaked dried shrimp until fine.
  • In a medium-sized pan or wok, heat oil on high heat.
  • Fry blended shrimp until fragrant.

  • Add turmeric powder, followed by 2 tbsp sugar. Fry mixture until it starts to look crispy.
  • Add desiccated coconut and stir to mix thoroughly.

You caught us… we had to switch to a bigger wok.
  • Add 2 more tbsp of sugar. Stir until well blended.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook, continuously stirring, until the mixture is dry.

Extra tips

  • Swap 2 tbsp of sugar with coconut sugar (Gula Melaka) instead for a deeper flavour profile and a richer colour.
  • Coconut Sambal doesn’t last very long, so don’t make too much, and eat it up quick. We’re pretty sure you won’t have a problem with the latter though.

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