Aubergine is the most versatile vegetable in the kitchen. Here it takes centre stage paired with tart tamarind, a regular element of Tamil cooking. Without fail this is served at a Hindu wedding, along with dal.
Serves 4, as a side dish
- 400g (14oz) aubergine (eggplant) (about 1 large)
- 4 tbsp oil
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 6 fresh curry leaves
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 green chillies, slit lengthways with seeds in
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, cut into quarters
- 300ml (7 fl oz/generous ¾ cup) tamarind water
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ½ tsp sugar (optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- 100ml (3. fl oz/7 tbsp) coconut milk
Fill a medium saucepan with water. Wash and cut the aubergine (eggplant) into 2.5cm (1-inch) chunks. Drop them in the water as you go to avoid discoloration and to remove the slight bitter taste.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Squeeze the water out of the cut aubergine pieces with your hands and place them into the pan. Saut. until it begins to soften and turn brown. When cooked, take the pan off the heat. Remove the aubergine pieces, gently squeezing any excess oil back into the pan with a spoon as you go, and set them aside.
Place the pan back on the heat, add a little extra oil to the pan if it is looking dry, then add the mustard seeds. Let them cook for a few seconds until they pop, then add the curry leaves and cumin seeds and give it a stir or two. Next, add the fenugreek seeds and stir-fry for a minute or so, then the green chillies and give it another stir. Add the onions, stir-fry for 30 seconds, and finally add the garlic, then saut. until the onions are soft and turning golden.
Then, add the tamarind water and all the spice powders, sugar (if using) and salt. Mix well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the curry
starts to thicken. Add the coconut milk and a little extra water if it’s too dry, and cook for about 5 minutes until the curry thickens.
Tip in the aubergine and mix it together on a low heat. Taste for salt and remove from the heat. Leave to rest for about 3 minutes before serving.
Tip: Instead of saut.ing the aubergine, you could bake it in the oven (180oc/350F/Gas Mark 4) for 30 minutes until soft.
Recipe courtesy of Sri Lanka The Cookbook.