Sambal Urap/Trancam: Spiced Grated Coconut Salad Dressing

Recipe for Sambal Urap: a Javanese salad dressing made using spiced grated coconut, and eaten with salads of steamed or fresh vegetables.

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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.

Coconut is one of the most important ingredients in Indonesian cuisine, and is widely used throughout the country, but especially in Padang, West Sumatra. Most dishes are cooked with coconut or coconut milk, which softens the flavour of complex spices and gives them the rich, creamy flavour that is the signature of Padang cuisine.

The coconut tree belongs to the palm family, and is one of the most useful plants around because every part of the tree can be utilised. (That’s why the Indonesian Scouts use a coconut shoot as their symbol). The fruit and young flowers are used mainly for cooking, and the young leaves are used to wrap food or to make decorations in traditional rituals or offerings. 

Young coconut has very soft flesh and is usually enjoyed raw or made into a dessert, while the older variety has a harder texture and its flesh and milk are used mostly for cooking. Its flesh is usually grated before use. Avoid using coconut that is too old, because the flesh is dry, tough and it contains less milk.


Sambal urap is grated coconut dressing used in salads known as Urap and Trancam. It has a sweet, creamy flavour, with coconut bits that add texture to the salad. To make it last longer, the sambal is steamed, so the coconut flesh will not turn rancid. This sambal can last for about 4 days in the refrigerator.

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Sambal Urap/Trancam: Spiced Grated Coconut Salad Dressing

Sambal Urap/Trancam: Spiced Grated Coconut Salad Dressing

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Sambals
  • Method: Steaming
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Gluten Free


A Javanese salad dressing made using spiced grated coconut, and eaten with salads of either steamed or fresh vegetables. This steamed sambal can be kept in the fridge for several days.


  • 200 gr grated coconut
  • 2 big red chillies, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 pieces of lesser galangals (2 cm each), scrape the outer skin, chopped
  • ¼ tsp roasted shrimp paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 50 gr palm sugar, shaved
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, remove the stalk, very thinly sliced

Sambal Urap/Trancam ingredients


  1. Using a blender or food processor, blend until smooth: chillies, garlic, lesser galangal, shrimp paste, salt, sugar and water.
  2. In a big bowl, mix the grated coconut, blended spices and sliced kaffir lime leaves. Check the taste.
  3. Steam the ingredients for 25 minutes.
  4. When done, remove from the steamer, cool and the sambal urap is ready.


  • If fresh coconut cannot be found, you can substitute it with desiccated coconut. Instead of ¼ cup, use 0.5 cup of water and add 3 tbsp of coconut milk in step 2 in the cooking process, to get a moist and creamy texture.
  • Feel free to adjust the amount of palm sugar and chillies for this recipe.
  • Lesser galangal can sometimes be found in powder form in Asian shops. If it’s not available, it can be omitted. The aroma will be different, but it will not alter the taste. 

Keywords: Spicy, Salad, Condiment, Dressing

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  1. I made this the other day and was pleasantly surprised by how much the taste brought me back to Solo – especially after it had been in the fridge for a few hours… I guess that really let everything come together. Definitely worth the trips to find kencur at tekka/gelang serai 🙂

    • Thank you Xin Wei for your comment, glad to know it turned out well! We all long to go back to Solo once travels start again!


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