Adam Liaw's caramelised onion sambal

Adam Liaw
Serve this sambal alongside a curry.
Serve this sambal alongside a curry. Photo: William Meppem

The importance of sambals, pickles and chutneys to a curry cannot be overstated. An unadorned curry is like a hamburger without sauce.


2 tbsp vegetable oil

4 large brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced

6 curry leaves

1 tsp red chilli powder, or to taste

1 green cardamom pod, bruised

2 cloves

1 tbsp tamarind puree

1 tsp caster sugar

½ tsp salt


1. Heat a medium saucepan over low-medium heat and add the oil and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes until translucent and starting to caramelise. Increase the heat to medium and cook for a further 5 minutes until the onions start to brown.

2. Add the curry leaves, chilli, cardamom and cloves, and cook for 2 minutes, until the curry leaves are fragrant, then add the remaining ingredients and about ¼ cup of water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the sambal is thick and glossy.

Also try: my barramundi curry with tomato and coconut

Find more of Adam Liaw's recipes in the Good Food New Classics cookbook.

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