Ingredients: Candlenut

Candlenut is one of Indonesian staple spices. It is nutty ingredients that have slightly taste like macademia nuts because they are still relatives. The nuts itself is light yellow/ivory, brittle, and waxy.

Candlenut, as Indonesian called kemiri (Aleurites Molaccanus) biggest supplier come from Lombok. They have 12 big groups to supply candlenut needs in Java and Bali. This farmer group living in high area that hardly to find clean water naturally. Fortunately candlenut tree can save a lot of water during rainy season and become source of water. The greener the area with candlenut tree, the better water will they have.

Modern candlenut farmer in Lombok area claimed for 30-80kg nuts for each tree. During the harvest time, twice per year, they can have 1,5ton per day including the skin. Before send it to market, they need to peel of the skin and dry under the sun. The next step is remove the shell by roasted it and dry again with the sun or the machine. The final step is sorting the size as grade differentiate and pack it to the market.

How to store Candlenut

The candlenut that you will find in the market or store is raw. It contains toxic when it still raw but it will safe to consume when it cooked. Since candlenuts contains lot of oils, it will go rancid quickly. The best way to store it is roasted untill golden brown and easy to crush. Let them cool and put it in a dry, clean and tight container. The shelf life roasted candlenut up to a year. You will know your candlenut already bad when it smell bad like old oil.

How to use Candlenut

Our taste bud can recognize five food sensation: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami. Umami is balance in between all the four our taste receptor in our tongue. Umami can be found in mushroom, tomato, seaweed, miso, and candlenut. Beside umami source, candlenut is also use for thickener in southeast asia cooking, including Indonesia. It is common used for curry or stew in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. Usually the recipe will ask candlenut in pieces, not grams. We also ground it as a paste before to use in our cooking.

Beside the nut itself, candlenut is also extracted for the oil, well known as kukui oil. Our ancestor use it as hair treatment and pass it generation to generation. It will help to get thicker and silky hair. The oil will be use directly to the scalp with rotation movement. Don’t worry, it will absorb quickly to our skin without feeling greasy. If you are into handmade soap making, this oil have vitamin A, C, and E will add more moisture to your end product.

Sambal Kemiri Recipe

Sambal kemiri is one of my favorite sambal. It is really good to pair my with sayur bening for lunch. The candlenut in sambal will add more creamy into my fresh sayur bening. Here is the recipe.


  • 1 garlic
  • 10 chillies
  • 7 candlenuts
  • salt

How to make it

  1. If you have raw candlenut, put it on the pan. Roast it in the low heat until golden brown to remove toxic. You can stir it evenly.
  2. Get your pestels and mortar or food processor. Mix all the ingredients until blended and soft. Now it is ready to serve 🙂