Rahel Stephanie’s Vegan Indonesian Snacks – Recipes | Indonesian food and drink

Eggplant balado (aubergine in red caramelized sambal)

This West Sumatran classic is a favorite for home cooking, and no wonder — there’s just something about the dark aubergine skin against the thick, red sambal; it also gives me flashbacks of devouring this at the local warteg, or food stall. The sambal also doubles as a seasoning or dip for any fritter; if you like, swap the eggplant for your fried protein of choice, from chicken or beef to tempeh, tofu, or seitan.

Preparation 15 minutes
Salty 30 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Serves 2

2 aubergines (350 grams)
Neutral oil
to fry
White riceto serve

For the sambal
4 cloves of garlicpeeled and roughly chopped
banana shallots (or 8 small Asian shallots), peeled and roughly chopped
4-5 red peppers (seeds and pit removed if you want less heat), coarsely chopped
1-3 birds eye peppersor to taste (optional), coarsely chopped
4-5 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
½ tablespoon caster sugar

Cut the aubergine into bite-sized chunks, place in a colander over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and let stand for about half an hour. Rinse thoroughly under cold running water, drain and dry.

Heat about 2 cm of oil in a large, deep-sided pan; when the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick bubbles when submerged, the oil is ready to cook. Fry the aubergine pieces, in batches if necessary, for three to five minutes until lightly browned and crisp, then lift out and drain on a wire rack on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. You can also roast the aubergines: toss the pieces in a little neutral oil, lay them in a single layer on a baking dish lined with foil and bake in a 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 oven for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through toss until soft and light brown.

For the sambal, place the garlic, shallots, peppers and tomatoes in a blender and grind to a coarse paste. Place two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat, add the chili paste and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Add the sugar and half a teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sambal thickens and thickens and the oil begins to separate.

Taste and adjust for salt and sugar if necessary, then add the aubergines to the sambal and stir fry briefly to warm up. Serve immediately with plain rice.

Bakwan jagung (corn fritters)

Bakwan are crispy, crunchy fritters packed with sweetcorn kernels that are a staple of Indonesia’s street snack scene, sold day and night by roadside vendors. A word of warning though: they are terribly Lake.

Preparation 15 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Serves 4 (for 10-15 fritters)

Neutral oil
50 g rice flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper

260 g drained canned sweetcorn (ie from about 1½ x 200g cans), or 260g frozen sweetcorn kernels, thawed
4 cloves of garlicpeeled and finely chopped
3 banana shallots (or 6 small Asian shallots), peeled and thinly sliced
1 stalk celerytrimmed and thinly sliced
1 spring oniontrimmed and thinly sliced

Heat about 2 cm of oil in a large, deep-sided pan; once the handle of a wooden spoon or chopstick bubbles when submerged, the oil is ready to cook.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper, then gradually whisk in enough cold water to form a smooth, thick batter – you’ll need about 180 ml of water in total. Drop all the vegetables into the batter, mix well, then, in batches, drop small dollops of batter into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a wire rack on a parchment-lined baking sheet to drain and keep warm in a low oven. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot as is, or dipped in sambal or peanut sauce of your choice.

Satay jamur maranggi (king oyster mushroom satay)

There are many misconceptions surrounding the word “sate”. First, it’s a spelling mistake. Second, many a Western “sate rice bowl” or “sate sauce” seems to be based on the idea that it means peanut sauce, when it actually means “skewer”, and encompasses a wealth of nut and non-nut dishes. Chicken from the East Javanese island of Madura sataywhich is indeed soaked in a creamy peanut sauce has become dominant in the west, but it is only one in the vast universe of Indonesian satay. Satay jamur maranggi is one of the lesser known and most underrated. Usually made with beef, it is a Sundanese satay where the marinating unlocks deep, sweet and spicy flavors. It is beautifully complemented by the accompanying sambal sweet soy sauceand there’s not a nut in sight.

Preparation 15 minutes
marinate 1 hour+
Cook 30 minutes
Serves 4

450 g king oyster mushroomsstems cut off
2 tbsp neutral oilplus extra for greasing

For the marinade
6 cloves of garlicpeeled
2 banana shallots (or 4 small Asian shallots), peeled
2½cm piece of fresh gingerpeeled
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp palm sugar
(ideally Indonesian, and shaved), or coconut sugar
1 tsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp kecap manis
(or 2 tbsp soy sauce mixed with ½ tbsp sugar or agave syrup)

For the sambal kecap
1 tomatocut in pieces
3-5 Bird’s Eye peppersto taste, thinly sliced
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
5 tbsp kecap manis
(or 5 tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1 tbsp sugar or agave syrup)

Toss the mushrooms and oil in a bowl to coat. Place the mushrooms in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, then place another heavy pan on top to press the mushrooms down. Pour 50 ml of water into the pan so that it flows around the mushrooms and cook for three to five minutes. As they steam, the mushrooms soften and flatten.

Remove the top pan, turn the mushrooms over and weigh again. Add another 50ml of water, cook for another three to five minutes until the mushrooms are tender, then remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor, grind until smooth and scrape into a large bowl.

When the mushrooms have cooled, cut into 1cm thick strips, toss in the marinade and refrigerate to marinate for at least an hour, ideally overnight.

Thread the marinated mushroom strips onto soaked bamboo skewers. Make the sambal kecap by mixing everything in a bowl and set aside.

Now cook the satay. Place a grill pan over medium heat and brush both sides of each mushroom skewer with oil. Grill the skewers, in batches if necessary, turning frequently and basting with the excess marinade for five minutes on each side, until browned all over (you can cook them on a barbecue instead if you prefer).

Plate the skewers, sprinkle generously with sambalkecap and serve immediately.

  • Rahel Stephanie is a cook, food writer and founder of spoonsan Indonesian supper club in London