This rich peanut sauce from chef, cookbook author, and satay expert Vanja Van der Leeden ticks all the boxes. It’s creamy, nutty, spicy and aromatic. Traditionally made in a heavy mortar and pestle, Van der Leeden’s version can be made quickly and easily in a blender. Unable to eat peanuts? Try swapping them out for almonds or cashews.

This recipe is adapted from Van der Leeden’s cookbook INDOSTOK.

Featured in:  “Making Indonesia-Style Satay Is All About Finding Your Grill Groove.”

Bumbu kacang (Indonesian Peanut Sauce) Bumbu Kacang (Indonesian Peanut Sauce)
The archipelago’s classic satay condiment.
Yield: makes 2 cups
Time: 10 minutes


  • 1 tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. (2 oz.) tamarind pulp
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 small red chile, coarsely chopped
  • 4 small bird’s eye chiles, coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 7 oz. (1¼ cup) roasted peanuts
  • 2 tbsp. kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), plus more
  • 2 tsp. palm sugar
  • 1 tsp. terasi (Indonesian shrimp paste)
  • 6 makrut lime leaves
  • Kosher salt


  1. To a small bowl, add the tamarind pulp and ¼ cup lukewarm water.
  2. Heat a large skillet over low heat and add the oil. When hot, add the chiles and garlic and cook, stirring frequently until fragrant and beginning to color, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Set a fine mesh strainer over a blender, then pass the tamarind pulp and its water through it, discarding any solids that remain. Add the peanuts, kecap manis, palm sugar, terasi, and the lime leaves, then blend to a sauce of your desired consistency, adding additional water a tablespoon at a time as needed to loosen. Season to taste with salt and kecap manis. Transfer to a bowl and serve at room temperature with satay or other grilled meats or vegetables. Leftovers keep well in an airtight jar for up to 1 week.