spicy indonesian eggplant / pittige indonesische aubergine / terong balado


Delicious, delicious Indonesian eggplant! Everytime I go for rijstafel I secretly hope that these melt-in-your-mouth chunks wallowing in a sweet-tangy-chili sauce will appear in one of the little dishes.

Of course, I won’t always live five minutes away from Toko Mini and Surakarta, so I’ve been working up my own version. Other recipes didn’t really do it justice: many, including this one, exclude tamarind paste and others, including this one, call for deep-frying the eggplant. This nice blogger finally gave up on the internet and phoned her mother, but her recipe includes some dried shrimp (trassi) and I’d prefer to keep things strictly vegetarian.

Spicy eggplant is delicious as part of a rijstafel or as a side dish with fried rice and satay. This recipe makes a nice side for 3 or 4 people.

1 medium-large eggplant
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp ketjap manis (or 2 tbsp regular soy sauce + 1 tbsp brown sugar)
3 tbsp water
1 tsp lemon or lime juice
4 shallots
1 tbsp sambal oelek
1 tomato (1/4 of a 400 g can of chopped tomatoes will do)
1 tbsp oil for frying

Chop the eggplant in 2 cm chunks. I marinate the eggplant with the tamarind, ketjap manis, water, lemon juice and sambal oelek, but I’m not sure that this step is absolutely essential (the salt in the sambal oelek and the ketjap manis will draw the bitterness out of the eggplant).

Dice the shallots finely and fry until golden in a hot wok or large frying pan. Dice the tomato and add the tomato and eggplant mixture to the wok. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is soft (5 min). You can add more sambal or sugar here if you want.

Future experiments with this dish will probably involve adding garlic and lime leaves, since they seem to show up in a lot of other recipes.

Tamarind paste and sambal oelek can be purchased at your neighbourhood Dutch Toko. I like Pantainorasingh brand tamarind and Koningsvogel brand sambal oelek.


2 Responses to “spicy indonesian eggplant / pittige indonesische aubergine / terong balado”

  1. 1 Niyel


    The authentic way is to grill the Asian eggplants, these are long and slender compared to the normal eggplant. But it won’t be a problem to substitute it like you’ve done it many times before. I still advise you to grill it because it will be healthier and non greasy.
    You have to know that the “belado sauce” does not originate in Java, but Sumatra. Don’t add kecap or shrimp paste to it!

    The recipe for the sauce is actually quite simple, you just need a few shallots, a tomato, and some chili peppers (if you like it spicy, mix it with Thai chili peppers).
    Blend it all together, then fry it with a little bit of oil. (Any kind of oil will do, but not olive oil)
    Add sugar to make the sauce sweeter and less spicy and add a bit of salt. Once you’re done, squeeze some lime over the sauce, add the eggplants and bon appetit!
    Don’t use water, soy sauce, shrimp paste, tamarind or any of that!
    As easy as that, healthy and very vegetarian like!

    Hope I’ve helped and good luck!

    • Thanks for your comment! I will try this recipe your way some time. I think that the lime and your version and the tamarind in mine work in the same way to give the dish a bit of a sour kick.

      I was interested to learn that your version of terong balado is from Sumatra. My favourite Indonesian restaurant in Holland is named after a city on Java, so maybe they prepare their eggplant in a more Javanese style? (or maybe they just prepare it in a more Dutch style) Either way, this spicy eggplant dish is delicious!

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