When I am short on time and need a fabulous and even decadent curry that everyone will love, I turn to this Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry.
This is an extraordinarily flavorful dish, with spices like turmeric, mustard, coriander and cumin flavoring a creamy coconut sauce. Floating in that sauce are tender, juicy bits of perfectly cooked eggplant. Heaven.
It's a particularly wonderful dish to make and eat during this season because, with a bowl of rice, it screams comfort food. And don't we all need some of that during these icy days of winter.
Of course, the winter here in the D.C. area has not been much to write home about this year. It's been coldish, but not as cold as it sometimes gets. I had neglected to bring my potted oregano plant inside when it started to get cold and usually it'd be frozen stiff by now, but when I looked at it the other day it looked quite alive. So I brought it in, watered it, and it's sprouted lots of new green leaves.
While I'm not crazy about having my toes and fingers feel like popsicles, I do miss the biting chill of winter, and Jay has been complaining because there's been no snow.
Back to the recipe, eggplant is one of my favorite veggies, so when I first found this recipe in a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook I was quick to make it. I loved it so, I've made it numerous times over the years.
I've tweaked it a bit here and there over the years, and this recipe is almost exactly the same as when I first shared it with you many years ago. It's a simple recipe so there's not much to tell you by way of tips, but here's one thing: you can use any eggplant you have on hand for it. I've made it with the large Italian eggplant, the small, round Indian ones, and Japanese eggplants, and all work well.
You will need to cut the eggplants twice. And by that I mean you'll first cut it in longish slices, broil it (or you can pop them in the air fryer for 10 minutes), and then halve them again into smaller bits before adding to the curry. This gives the eggplant a nice, chewy texture on the outside and keeps it creamy in.
I hope you try it.
What to serve this eggplant curry with?
Rice is perfect. Plain rice is great, but make this with my jeera rice or cumin rice for an even more special meal.
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Sri Lankan Eggplant Curry
- 1 large eggplant (or 8 small Indian round eggplants, or 3-4 Japanese eggplants. Cut into 2-inch slices)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (or paprika)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Juice of ½ lime or lemon
- 2 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves
- Powder the mustard, coriander, cumin and fennel powders in a spice grinder or blender. Set aside.
- Slather the eggplant slices with salt, pepper and ½ teaspoon oil, and place on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and cook for four minutes until the slices are reddish-brown on top. Flip over and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes.
- You can also do this in the air fryer: place the eggplant slices in the air fryer basket and cook for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees or until browned outside and cooked. Toss the eggplant slices once during cooking to make sure they brown evenly.
- Cut each eggplant slice into half. Then add the turmeric, lemon juice, cayenne or paprika and the powdered spices. Mix well.
- Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan.
- Add the onion and fry until lightly brown. Add the curry leaves and stir for a couple of minutes.
- Add the eggplant and half the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and let it cook five minutes.
- Add the remaining coconut milk and warm through without letting the curry come to a boil. Add more salt as needed.
- Turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves.
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