Visit the fabled Banda Islands on any one of SeaTrek’s spice cruises and at some point you will find yourself wandering through the beautiful and bountiful nutmeg forests, each one a vast orchard tucked beneath a towering old-growth canopy. The nutmeg tree is sun-sensitive and therefore cultivated under the cover of the soaring kenari trees, which can reach up to 50 metres in height. Many of them are more than 300 years old with buttressed roots that grow out from the base of the trunks to provide anchorage. These majestic giants complement the nutmeg trees by providing shade and acting as windbreaks in an ancient and ingenious form of agroforestry. The kenari trees yield, as a side benefit, delicious, almond-like nuts, which are exported as another sustainably harvested forest crop to be used in confectionary and to thicken sauces. Having experienced the tranquil magnificence of the forest, you may enjoy making this classic Banda Island dish, you’ll be able to buy the kenari nuts in the Bandaneira market.
Terong Kenari (Eggplant in Kenari Nut Sauce)
5 chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
3 red chillies
1 knob of fresh ginger, chopped
1 knob of fresh galangal, (a member of the ginger family) chopped
2 tbsp tamarind pulp, diluted with 2 cups warm water
1 tbsp palm sugar
2 eggplants halved
1 cup whole blanched kenari nuts soaked in hot water (almonds can be used as a substitute)
Makes two servings
• For the Eggplant:
• Mix the tamarind juice and salt, then marinate the eggplant for several minutes.
• Set aside the tamarind mixture. Grill, bake, or fry the eggplant on a medium heat until cooked.
• For the Kenari nut Sauce:
• Blend the soaked nuts, shallots, ginger and galangal in a food processor to a smooth paste (or you can do it the traditional way using pestle and mortar). Add a bit of water as necessary to get a nice creamy consistency. Set aside.
• Stir-fry garlic and onion for 1 minute. Add the chillies and nut paste you made earlier and fry for about 2 minutes, over medium heat.
• Add the tamarind mixture and palm sugar and cook for a couple of minutes.
• Spread the nut sauce onto each slice of eggplant.
• Garnish with fried onion and chives or parsley.