Colorful & comforting seasonal recipes for savory dishes, sweets and cocktails. 

Sambal Roasted Eggplant with Cardamom Yogurt

Sambal Roasted Eggplant with Cardamom Yogurt

If you enjoy spicy foods, read on. 

Sambal is a paste of ground chili peppers, not quite as smooth and soupy as Sriracha and differently spiced than harissa, but very much in the same family of hot sauces. It's sometimes called Sambal Oelek; oelek refers to the mortar and pestle traditionally used to grind raw chili peppers into a paste. It can be made with raw peppers, or roasted. This recipe calls for roasting red bell and habaneros and leaving the thai chilis raw. You can find all sorts of delicious hot peppers at the farmers market this time of year and, chances are, the farmers selling them have quite a few favorite ways to use them, too! 

Once you've made a batch of sambal, generously brush it onto sliced eggplant, let it roast, then serve it with cardamom spiced yogurt. Serve it as a side with grilled meats or coconut basmati rice. You can also serve the roasted eggplant as an appetizer with the cardamom yogurt as a dipping sauce. 

Sambal
Makes 1 cup
1-2 red or yellow bell peppers* 
5-6 habaneros (or scotch bonnets or serrano) 
1 cup of shallots, unpeeled and sliced vertically
8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
3-4 thai chilis
1 lemon, juiced and zested**
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 piece of ginger, 1/2-inch, peeled and chopped***

*The sweet peppers might be cheating in terms of authenticity, but they bring a little sweetness and round out the heat of the thai chilies and habarneros. Adjust as needed. 
**Substitute lemon for lime
***While you're at it, add a 2-inch piece of lemongrass root, if available; try the farmer's market or your local Asian market

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the bell peppers, habaneros, shallots, and garlic. Roast for 30 minutes, until the pepper skins are blackened and the shallots and garlic are soft, then let cool. Remove the tops and skins from the peppers, pull out the seeds (how many seeds is up to you; I left about a third of the seeds from the habaneros), and place the peppers in a food processor. Peel the skins off the shallots and garlic, discard the skins, and place the roasted shallots and garlic in the food processor. Carefully sliced the tops of the thai chilis and remove the seeds; use gloves if available. Add to the food processor along with the lemon zest and juice, olive oil, brown sugar, sea salt, and ginger. Blend until moderately smooth (see photo above), transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate until ready to use.  

Sambal Roasted Eggplant with Cardamom Yogurt
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 small eggplants
1/4 cup sambal (recipe above)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush olive oil onto a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Cut eggplant into 1-inch slices. Score the tops of the eggplant with the knife in a criss-cross pattern. Generously brush sambal into the criss-cross ridges. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the eggplant skins begin to wilt. Stir together greek yogurt and ground cardamom and serve with the roasted eggplant, plated or as an appetizer.  
 

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