Peanut Sauce or Satay Sauce without Coconut Milk

Peanut Sauce or Satay Sauce without Coconut Milk
Peanut Sauce or Satay Sauce without Coconut Milk

I have an ongoing affaire de cœur with Satay. It all started in 1996 on my first trip abroad. I stopped in Singapore en route to Malaysia where I was to conduct a 10-day training program on a programming technique called OLE/COM for the Malaysian government.

As is wont with most Indian vegetarians, I set off on the trip with apprehensions about food that will be available. I wanted to try the local cuisine but was also wary of what I might get to eat.

In Singapore, I was met by a friend who was a stricter vegetarian than I am (she ate no onion or garlic) and she introduced me to some Vegetarian non-Indian restaurants. Yes, yes, I ate at the redoubtable Komala Vilas sometime during my trip.

The first dish I tasted at lunch on the day I landed was Tofu Satay and I was instantly in love.

Later on when I travelled to Malaysia, I stayed on the outer edge of a city called Shah Alam that was just developing. In this city, there was the Holiday Inn where I was staying, there was the magnificent Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque and a mall nearby that had a few shops open. Finding something vegetarian to eat in the evenings was quite a bit of challenge. I cannot tell you how much boiled corn and how many French Fries I ate. 🙂

Towards the end of the course, during lunch I was chatting with the participants about my stay in Singapore and happened to mention how much I liked Satay. To my surprise, on the last day of the course, I was gifted 10 cans of Satay Sauce and about 1 Kg of Rambutan (a fruit that I quite enjoyed). I was quite touched by the gesture.

For many months to come after I returned to India, my family and friends ate Satay. 🙂 🙂

While there are many recipes for Satay Sauce, I make this version often. You can enjoy this sauce with grilled vegetables, pan-fried tofu or paneer, or even steamed vegetables.

As I was writing this post, my brother has had a significant amount of sauce with steamed rice!

Time: 45 Minutes

Makes: 2 Cups


  1. Peanuts – 1 Cup
  2. Lemon Grass (White Part) – 3
  3. Garlic Cloves – 2 Large
  4. Shallots or Madras Onion – 4
  5. Spicy Red Chillies – 5
  6. Galangal – 1″ piece (or 1/2″ Ginger)
  7. Brown Sugar – 1 tsp
  8. Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
  9. Soy Sauce – 1 tsp
  10. Tamarind Pulp – 2 tsp
  11. Peanut Oil or Sesame Oil – 1 tbsp
  12. Salt to Taste


  1. Soak the chillies in just enough water to cover them for 10 minutes.
  2. Roastanddeskin the peanuts.
    1. In a wok or kadhai, over medium heat, dry roast the peanuts.
    2. Let the peanuts cool.
    3. Stand over a sink.
    4. Rub a few peanuts between your palms.
    5. Blow gently to get rid of the skin.
    6. Set aside the deskinned peanuts.
    7. Repeat the process till all peanuts are deskinned.
  3. Grind the peanuts to a coarse powder.
  4. Set aside.
  5. With a little water, grind the soaked red chillies, shallots, lemongrass, coriander powder, garlic, and garlic to a fine paste.
  6. In a wok, heat the oil.
  7. Add the spice paste and stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes till it loses the raw taste.
  8. Add the soy sauce, sugar, and tamarind paste.
  9. Stir-fry for 2 minutes till the tamarind loses its raw taste.
  10. Add the peanut powder and 3/4 cup water.
  11. Add salt and mix well.
  12. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  13. Simmer till the mixture is thick but of pouring consistency.
  14. Serve with grilled vegetables, tofu or paneer.


  • If you have peanut butter at home, use 1/2 cup of that instead of the peanuts. You can save a lot of time. I have found crunchy peanut the best as it lends some texture to the Satay sauce.
  • Be careful with the amount of salt you add as the Soy Sauce has some.
  • Be careful with the amount of Sugar you add as the sauce can quickly turn sweet.


I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Do leave me a comment.