Monday, June 13, 2011

Balado of Eggplants

Dear Readers,

Last week was a week full of cheer, joy, and awesomeness. Last Tuesday was my birthday!!! *YAY!* I do feel so blessed and can't be more thankful this year. The beginning of this year was the tough one. Adapting to so many changes were not always pleasant. Thankfully, things have worked out with their own pace. I would like to highlight the biggest cheer in my life! My permanent residency was granted  just a day after my birthday. *happy dance!!*
I reckon comfort cooking is what I need to celebrate it. Not that any apologia is needed, I think going back to the kitchen makes me feel more alive and happier. Obviously, I can use this week luck to whip up something moreish from my childhood.

As Indonesian, I love foods that pack a punch, have myriad of spices in it, and have lots and lots of chilies. For me, my blood and sweat are well worth it after eating these type of food. So, I picked this dish!  I have a great fondness for eggplant, when first moved to Australia, I was literally astounded at such a huge eggplant, back there we have no where near the size of eggplants here.

My mama loves to cook balado eggplants and I adore this so much. Balado is another variety of sambal. They are made from chilies, tomatoes, shallots, and garlic. But, my mom would never use tomatoes in balado recipe, she believes that the sauce will be too runny for the dish.  But, due to my sense of rebelliousness and disobedience, I created my version of balado which defer slightly from her recipe.

 Here is the recipe

Balado of Eggplants

7 Lebanese eggplants (*not the huge one*)
8 cloves garlic, crushed
180 g red chilies *you may de-seed it too*
1 bird's eye chilies *optional*
250 g Spanish onion, cut into quarters
300 g tomatoes
3-4 Indonesian bay leaves or daun salam (*you can get them from asian groceries store or in Australia, you may get it here*)
2-1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp oil
1 Lime

1. Put garlic, red chilies, spanish onion, tomato in a blender or food processor, process until it slightly smooth * My mom would prefer more rough paste just to give more texture to the dish, hence she pulse it for just a few times*
2. Heat oil in the pan on a medium heat, transfer the paste into the pan.
3. Add Indonesian bay leaves, stir occasionally and cook it until the spices split. 
*the spices will be reduced, and oil starts to appear on the surface*
4. Once the spices split, add salt, sugar, cook it until the colour transform to dark red.
5. Turn off the heat 
6. To serve, you can either cut the eggplants length ways and grill them as I did (just make sure they are 1.5 cm thick) or in a more authentic approach, you can deep fry them. 
7. You can either serve the sauce separately, if you are alarmed with how much chilies in the balado, or in a more authetic manner just dunk the eggplant into the sauce and stir them around until they are nicely covered.
8. Squeeze a bit of lime just before serving.
9. Serve with boiled rice

n.b You can always prepare this sambal way a head, this sambal freeze very well too. In Indonesia, we use balado to spice up prawns, fried eggs, boiled eggs, and shredded boiled chicken. 

'Till then,