Chinese Eggplant Sambal

In my Asparagus Stir-Fry with Dried Shrimp post, I did mention on how we Malaysians are hooked on sambal:

“…our famous must-have condiment – sambal! When you blanch dried chilies and then grind it with some belacan (shrimp paste), you have with you sambal paste that be used in infinite possible ways. Ask any Malaysian and he/she would say that nothing can go wrong when it’s cooked with sambal paste!”

Here is yet another one of the infinite possible ways of using the sambal paste to make a delectable dish, this time around using Chinese Eggplants.

I have tried using all the different available types of eggplants: Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Indian and find them all to be wonderful. The Chinese eggplants though are naturally sweeter, to me. This somehow tends to give the spicy sambal a suitable balance.

Here, the eggplants are sliced up and then deep-fried. Separately, I sautée some sambal paste and then when it is completely cooked i.e. when the oil separates from the oil (the chili paste needs to be cooked thoroughly to prevent the chilies tasting raw), I add in the eggplant slices and gently coat them with the sambal.

A sambal-icious side dish!


Medhu Vada with Coconut-Mint Chutney Dip

Most people in the world are probably aware that vada is traditionally a South Indian savory snack. These people would be in for a surprise when they get to eat this crispy delicacy in Malaysia prepared by a Malay (my neighbor in Melaka has a pasar malam stall where she prepares and sells masala vadas) or even Malaysian Chinese. Oh yes, I still remember eating this hot and tantalizing snack prepared and served by a Chinese man in his roadside stall in Gajah Berang. In fact, his variation was special as they were prawn vadas served with chili sauce. Well, that’s how diversely united we Malaysians are :)

It’s not an uncommon sight to see a Malay preparing and selling the vadas or even the popular Chinese snack, pao (or bao), a kind of steamed bun with a variety of filling, both sweet and savory; a Malaysian Chinese preparing and selling Malay kuihs, rendang and nasi lemak or a Malaysian Indian preparing and selling char kway teow! That’s why we mostly prefer to identify ourselves as Malaysians first and then by cultural heritage because we share, give and take so many things among ourselves, especially when it comes to the Malaysian cuisine :)

As for me, this is yet another item that I have never bothered making them when I was in Malaysia mainly because whenever I wanted them, vadas are easily available in all Indian restaurants (all day) and roadside stalls during teatime. Out of the two common vadas, medhu (the donut-like vada with the hole) and dhal (prepared with lentils), I love medhu vada. Prepared the right way, it is usually crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inseide and pairs well with coconut chutney or even yogurt (medhu vada eaten soaked in flavored yogurt becomes dahi vada!).

I’d have to presoak the black gram dhal the night before and then grind it to a thick batter and then flavor the batter with salt, cumin seeds, cut green chilies, onions and ginger. A little long a procedure…so I usually take it easy when I don’t get the hole in the middle like :) and mostly just fry them up by pouring the batter in the hot oil without even trying to shape them. I usually target for perfection in taste and once I achieve that, the shape is really not a concern! I prepared some coconut-mint chutney to dip my vadas in this time. In little oil, I roast some cut onion, ginger, green chilies and a bunch of mint leaves together with some chana dhal before blending them in my food processor.

A wonderful savory snack, best enjoyed piping hot on a cold fall day!
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