Terong Balado (Indonesian sweet & spicy eggplant in tomato sauce) Recipe

If you like eggplant you will certainly love this Indonesian sweet and spicy eggplant in tomato sauce dish. Terong means eggplant in Indonesian and balado is a type of hot and spicy spice paste (bumbu), originating from Minang cuisine of West Sumatra. Terong Balado is undeniably one of my favorite Indonesian vegetable dishes. It's also a favorite among my guests attending my Indonesian cooking workshops because of its sweet and slighty spicy flavor.


Balado sauce is made by stir frying ground red hot chilli peppers (or sambal) with other ingredients such as garlic, onions or shallots and tomatoes. These ingredients are similar to a version of sambal, Sambal Tomat. However, unlike sambal, balado sauce is usually mixed and stir fried together with its main ingredients and treated as a dish. Balado is suitable for fried prawns, squid, chicken, fried boiled eggs, fried beef, potatoes and of course eggplants.

Terong Balado, sweet and spicy eggplant in tomato sauce

Because of its almost identical ingredients and technique, the term balado is often interchangeable with sambal goreng ("fried sambal") dishes. Nevertheless, the term balado is more specifically referring to Minang cooking tradition, while sambal goreng refers to a more general Indonesian cuisine tradition.

Terong Balado ingredients (for 2 people)

It's actually quite easy to make Terong Balado and the dish doesn't have a lot of ingredients like many Indonesian dishes. My version of Terong Balado doesn't use chopped chillies. For heat I use my home-made sambals, either Sambal Badjak or Sambal Kecap. When preparing Terong Balado, please don't dice the eggplants too small. Keeping the eggplant pieces a bit larger, around 1,5 by 1,5cm (or 0,6 x 0,6 inch), ensures that they incorporate the balado sauce properly. Leaving them too small will make the dish too soggy.

Diced eggplant

To make Terong Balado first finely chop onions or shallots and garlic. Dice eggplant into at least 1,5cm by 1,5cm (0,6 inch by 0,6 inch) pieces. Set eggplant aside because we are going to make the balado sauce first.


Heat oil in a Dutch oven/ frying pan/ skillet. Gently fry the onions until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add sambal chilli paste and trassi shrimp paste and mix well. Make sure the mixture doesn’t burn. If needed, add more oil.

Onions combined with sambal chilli paste and trassi shrimp paste

Next step is to add garlic to the mixture and gently fry for a couple of minutes. Add canned diced tomatoes or canned peeled tomatoes (crush them with your hands into smaller pieces) and gently fry for a couple of minutes. Then add tomato paste, palm sugar and water. Stir and mix well. Turn up the heat a little until the mixture simmers. Then turn down the heat, but make sure it keeps simmering.

Balado sauce

Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Palm sugar should be dissolved in the mixture. The water partially evaporates and what remains looks more like a sauce (balado). Add diced eggplants. Mix well with the balado. Add a splash of water if necessary. Put the lid on the pan and simmer the eggplants in the balado. Stir now and then.

Diced eggplant covered in balado sauce

After about 20 minutes the eggplants are soft and the sauce is nicely boiled down. Check whether the eggplants are butter soft. If not, simmer the eggplants a little longer in the balado sauce.


Serve with white rice (Nasi Putih) or yellow rice (Nasi Kuning), chicken coconut curry (Ayam Rica Rica), mixed vegetables coconut curry (Sayur Lodeh), pickled cucumber (Acar Ketimun) and sweet and spicy pineapple (Rujak Manis).

Terong Balado with Ayam Rica Rica, Sayur Lodeh, Acar Ketimun, Rujak Manis and Nasi Kuning



Ingredients for 4 people (side dish)

  • 2 small eggplants

  • 2 onions

  • 3 garlic cloves

  • 3 tablespoons sambal, or substitute with another chilli paste

  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (trassi)

  • 250 gr/ 9 oz canned diced tomatoes / peeled tomatoes (crush with your hands)

  • 40 gr/ 1½ oz tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar (gula jawa), or substitute with caster sugar

  • 100 ml/ 3.4 fl. oz. water

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil


Instructions

  • Peel and chop the onions and garlic. Dice eggplants.

  • Heat oil in a frying pan/ skillet. Gently fry the onions until translucent (about 5 min).

  • Add sambal chilli paste and trassi shrimp paste and mix well. Make sure the mixture doesn’t burn. If needed, add more oil.

  • Add garlic to mixture and gently fry for a couple of minutes.

  • Add canned diced tomatoes or canned peeled tomatoes (crush them with your hands into smaller pieces) and gently fry for a couple of minutes.

  • Add tomato paste, palm sugar and water. Stir and mix well. Turn up the heat a little until the mixture simmers. Then turn down the heat, but make sure it keeps simmering.

  • Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Palm sugar should be dissolved in the mixture. The water partially evaporates and what remains looks more like a sauce (balado).

  • Add diced eggplants. Mix well with the balado. Add a splash of water if necessary.

  • Put the lid on the pan and simmer the eggplants in the balado. Stir now and then.

  • After about 20 minutes the eggplants are soft and the sauce is nicely boiled down. Check whether the eggplants are butter soft. If not, simmer the eggplants a little longer in the balado.

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