There is something amazing about aubergine. Not only their colours and shininess, their taste varies from dish to dish. This recipe is from Kerala, a coastal Western state of India, where coconuts and bananas abound. Kerala is an amazing state, cleaner than many others with a very high literacy rate, and the only communist state in India. It is an easy state to be in, to visit and stay in, and the food is as good as anywhere. Several of my favourite Indian dishes come from Kerala.
Aubergines cooked in Coconut has a beautiful and flavoursome base of onions, garlic, ginger & spices, which is turned into a sauce with coconut milk. The sautéed aubergines soak up the sauce and the thickened gravy coats the pieces.
You might also want to try other dishes from Kerala, such as Avail, Aubergines in Coconut Milk, Cabbage Thoran and Neyyum Parippum. All of the Kerala recipes are here and here, and the Eggplant Recipes here and here. The basis for this recipe is Madhur Jaffrey and you can see her recipes here.
Generally I like my Indian dishes to be simple – as in all things, I prefer simplicity. This dish is not hard, but it has more spices and more steps than most dishes on this site. But please relax, it is well worth the tiny bit of extra effort. Oh, and it is also beautifully spicy!
Aubergines in Coconut Milk | Thenkapal Varadhiniya
Source : adapted from Madhur Jaffrey
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: 3 – 4 people, depending how you use it
FOR THE SPICE PASTE
0.5 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn black pepper corns
0.5 tspn cumin seeds
0.25 tspn turmeric powder
0.25 tspn fennel seeds
2.5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
200g aubergine/eggplant cut into 2.5 cm pieces
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
0.5 tspn chilli powder
0.75 – 1 tspn salt
5 Tblspn ghee or coconut oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2.5 cm piece of ginger, finely grated or chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed
10 – 12 curry leaves
1 – 2 green chillies
1 Tblspn good quality (organic) white wine vinegar
0.5 cup coconut milk
0.66 cup water
sliced green chillies or green herbs, finely chopped for garnish
Make the spice paste first. Grind all the ingredients together to a fine powder. Empty into a small bowl and make a paste by adding 2Tblspn water. Mix to a paste.
Now cook the aubergines. Firstly, put the chopped aubergine into a medium bowl and mix with the turmeric, chilli pepper and 0.24 tspn of the salt. Then heat 3 Tblspns of the ghee or coconut oil in a kadhai or large pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the aubergine pieces and stir and fry for about 8 minutes or so until they are golden and tender. Remove and drain on paper towel.
Time to make the flavour base. Heat the remaining ghee or coconut oil in a kadhai or pan and sauté the onion over medium heat until soft. Lower the heat and add the garlic, chopped ginger, curry leaves and chopped green chillies. Stir for 30 or 40 seconds and add the vinegar. Stir quickly, then add the spice paste. Stir again and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
To make the sauce, add the coconut milk and water to the flavour base. Stir and simmer gently for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the cooked aubergine and stir and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes.
The aubergine will absorb much of the sauce. The rest will coat the aubergine.
Garnish with green herbs and or green chilli.