10 May / Roasted Aubergine (Eggplant) with Spicy Pili Sauce (Terong Saos Kacang Kanari Pedas)
Pili nuts are similar to almonds but with a richer, creamier taste. They are plentiful in Maluku, a province comprised of nearly a thousand islands. The province was once known as the Moluccas or The Spice Islands, a historic trading hub for the visiting merchants from China, India and, later, Medieval Europe (page 25).
One of the best places to find pili nuts is in the Banda Islands. Known locally as kacang kanari, pili nut trees have a vital function by offering shade for nutmeg, which could only be found in Banda in the sixteenth century. (Seedlings were eventually carried to other countries around the world.)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30-35 minutes
For the aubergines (eggplants):
- 2 large aubergines (eggplants)
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Small bunch of basil, leaves only, to garnish
- Steamed rice or Turmeric Coconut Rice (page 201), to serve
For the sauce:
- 100 g / 3 1⁄2 oz (scant 1 cup) natural pili nuts or almonds with skin
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
- 2–3 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
- 1–2 tablespoons lime juice
- Salt, to taste
- 1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
To make the aubergines (eggplants), 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7.
Using a sharp knife, cut the aubergine into 5-cm/2-inch pieces. Place in a roasting pan, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30–35 minutes until soft.
To make the sauce, place the pili nuts on a baking sheet and roast on the lowest rack of the oven for 10–12 minutes.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and sauté for 2–3 minutes until fragrant. Add the chillies and sauté for another 2–3 minutes. Set aside.
In a blender, combine the pili nuts, garlic mixture and 200 ml/7 fl oz (generous 3⁄4 cup) of water and blend until thick and smooth. If necessary, add a little water. Transfer to a bowl, then add the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the aubergines to a large serving plate and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with rice.
Padang-Style Aubergines (Terong Balado)
Replace the sauce with Balado Sambal (page 51) and mix with the aubergines.
Excerpted from The Indonesian Table © 2023 by Petty Pandean-Elliot. Photography © 2023 by Yuki Sugiura. Reproduced by permission of Phaidon. All rights reserved.