Balinese-style peanut sauce

A few weeks ago, I stayed at the Satyananda Yoga Ashram near Daylesford for 3 days.

The life at an ashram is simple and community-based, with 4 hours of karma yoga — a selfless service of doing set tasks {e.g. cleaning, washing, gardening, cooking etc} around the ashram, daily.

What I particularly loved about the ashram was the wholesome food. We had 3 simple, yet delicious meals.

Most of the food was grown in the ashram garden or bought from local farmers within the region.

For breakfasts, we had warming porridges with stewed pears, which we ate in silence. And wholesome vegetarian, legume-based meals with roasted veggies, salads or sautéed greens for lunch and dinner.

Fresh fruit and tea were served for morning and afternoon tea.

There were no TVs or gadgets in sight {the ashram is a mobile free zone} to distract us from our delicious meals.

On my last evening, I had quite an exceptional meal of steamed brown rice, tempeh, sautéed greens and a Balinese-style peanut sauce, otherwise known as satay sauce.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to have some, because Western renditions of peanut sauces are sweet. Julia, the lovely lady who made it, happens to be married to a Balinese, and assured me it was authentic.

I had to go back for seconds and ask her how to make it. She rattled off a list of ingredients, and a rough idea of how to make it. So I hope my version does it justice. It’s not quite like hers, but it’s certainly yummy.



Makes 3 serves | cooking time 15–20 minutes | dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, vegan-option

Cooking notes: If you can’t be bothered roasting your own peanuts, and to save some time, use roasted, unsalted peanuts without their husks.

  • ¾ cup organic raw peanuts {shelled & husked}
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • thumb-sized knob {20 g/0.044 lb} ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp tamari {gluten-free soy sauce}
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce, preferably sugar-free
  • ¾ cup filtered water
  • juice of ½ a lime, or to taste

Preheat oven to 170°C/340°F {150°C/300°F fan-forced}

Line an oven tray with unbleached baking paper, and roast peanuts for 10–12 minutes unlit lightly browned. Remove and allow to cool.

In the meantime, heat the coconut oil in a small frypan, and sauté the onion, ginger, chilli, garlic and turmeric over low heat for approximately 5 minutes, until the onions have lightly caramelised.

Into a high-powered blender/processor, tip the sautéed mixture with the roasted peanuts, tamari and fish sauce. Pulse few times to breakdown the nuts.

Next, add the water and blend on high speed, until you have a chunky sauce. If you’d like it smoother, blend for longer. And if you’d like a runnier sauce, add more water.

Add the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with tamari or fish sauce, and add more lime juice if preferred.

Serve with anything you like. Works well with steamed/sautéed veggies, tempeh/tofu or chicken, and brown rice or quinoa. Can also be used as a dip for grilled chicken skewers. I’ve added it to Asian-style soups too {to add a bit of creaminess when I didn’t have any coconut milk}.

Will keep refrigerated in an airtight jar up to 3 days. Or you can cook the sauce {lightly simmer for a few minutes} to store in fridge up to a week.


  • vegan — replace fish sauce with umeboshi vinegar or shiro miso {or use a mixture of both}.
  • peanut allergy — try this with cashews. May need more lime juice to balance the flavour, as cashews are sweeter than peanuts.
  • nut-free — try it with sunflower seeds.

7 thoughts on “Balinese-style peanut sauce”

  1. This is so delicious! Thank you for taking the time to recreate this recipe and share it. I just happened to have all of the ingredients here and had to go ahead and make it right away. I will definitely be making this often!

  2. What a great idea to make a more savory version of peanut sauce, and I like the option to use cashews too. The whole meal you described this being served with sounds amazing. Although I didn’t stay at an ashram, this post took me back to my time in Bali last month; the more simple way of living and the wholesome food served at our eco lodge. Thanks for the nudge to mentally revisit everything I love about Bali and want to keep alive as inspiration for my daily life back home.

      1. Lesh, I made this satay last week. Paired it with sauteed tempeh and steamed brown rice and broccoli, trying to replicate some delicious but simple meals from Bali, which were not so different from what you described having too. The satay was absolutely lovely and very easy to make. I will be making it again for sure. Thank you!

        And here is the link to Bali Eco Lodge. Highly recommend!

  3. This peanut sauce sounds wonderful. Most peanut sauce recipes I’ve seen just don’t get how the flavors are supposed to be. It is also nice to have a special recipe from one of my favorite, one of the most beautiful places in the the world.

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