Sambal Rujak: Sambal with Mixed Fruit Salad

Sambal rujak is a mixed fruit salad eaten with a sweet and spicy sauce, made using chilies, palm sugar and shrimp paste.

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

When I was in Singapore, I loved going to the wet market, because it reminded me of Indonesia. I liked the human interactions there — unlike at the supermarket, which can be boring and lonely. The interactions in a wet market can be quite amusing too, like my interactions with the pineapple seller I frequented at Singapore’s Tanglin Halt, in the Commonwealth area.

The uncle (how we refer to older men in Singapore), would always adjust his greetings depending on how I dressed. If I went there:

Before work, in my nice office attire, perfect hair, complete makeup and heels, he would say: 

A very good morning to you madaaaaamm, can I get you the sweetest pineapple today?”

Before meeting a friend, in casual jeans, a t-shirt and sports shoes:

Hi miss, going out today? Any pineapple for you?”

On my day off, dressed for housework in shorts, an old shirt and crocs:

Ya haloooo……What you want? Aiyaaa…don’t be so choosy la, all sweet what!”

I would tell myself, “Uncle, I don’t care that you don’t recognise my face and always greet me based on my attire, because your pineapple is one of the best in Singapore! I will always stop by anyway!”

This is one of the many funny memories I have of my stay in Singapore. Even now, in Jakarta, I still remember the uncle’s epic greetings whenever I see pineapple, and it makes me smile. Just as I couldn’t help smiling today, as I was cutting pineapple to prepare rujak, a fruit salad served with sambal rujak (chilli sauce with palm sugar).


The funny story aside, rujak is best eaten on hot days. Use unripe fruits when available, such as green mangoes and  Granny Smith apples. Unripe fruits are sour, while the sambal rujak is sweet and spicy, complementing each other perfectly. Use also fruits which are meant to be sweet and crunchy, such as pineapple, Jicama, jambu (rose apple), etc. The experience of eating rujak should be like eating tortilla with salsa. For this reason, do not use soft or overly ripe fruits. You won’t be able to scoop the sambal using the soft fruit, and it’s kind of sad and depressing, like eating stale tortilla. 

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Sambal Rujak: Sambal with Mixed Fruit Salad

Sambal Rujak: Sambal with Mixed Fruit Salad

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Vegetables, Snacks, Sauces & Sambals
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Low Salt


Sambal rujak is a mixed fruit salad eaten with a sweet and spicy sauce, made using chilies, palm sugar and shrimp paste. Enjoyed as a fruity snack throughout Indonesia, with variations in Malay and Southern Chinese cuisine.


  • 100 gr palm sugar, shaved
  • 1 to 4 bird eye’s chillies (adjust the amount of chillies according to your preference)
  • 1 tsp tamarind pulp (can be substituted with a piece of sour fruit such as unripe mango or Granny Smith apple)
  • 0.5 tsp roasted shrimp paste (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp water


  1. Put the chilli, salt and shrimp paste in a mortar, and then pound all the ingredients until smooth.
  2. Add the tamarind, and mix well. Then add the shaved palm sugar. If the mixture is too dry, add 2 tbsp water.
  3. Continue pounding until you get a smooth, brown paste. It shouldn’t be too liquidy, so you can scoop the sambal with a piece of fruit.

Sambal Rujak close up


  • For extra creaminess, you can add roasted peanuts after step 1, and grind the peanuts to a smooth paste.
  • Use at least 3 different fruits to make it a fun experience. Cut the fruits into bite-sized pieces.

Keywords: Quick and Easy, Shrimp Paste, Belachan, Rojak

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