Recently Tamarind Leaves made an appearance in my local Asia grocery, much to my delight. Not only are they tasty, but they have many health properties. This is especially so for the Liver, or so it is claimed. Tamarind leaves are considered by some as the most effective treatment for liver problems.
Health benefits aside, today we are using the beautiful flavour of the leaves ground into a paste to coat eggplant (brinjal), producing a great side dish or light meal dish to be eaten with rice. Yum! The eggplant is first sauteed for a few minutes and then steamed with a little water, so it is achingly soft. This dish can be described as hot, a little salty, and a little sour, a delicious combination. You know those Indian dishes that have a flavour party in your mouth? This is one of those dishes.
Just as a point of interest, tamarind leaves do not weigh very much. Stripping leaves from the bag of leaves, I ended up with just enough for this dish.
Eggplant in Tamarind Leaf Paste | Brinjal with Tender Tamarind Leaves
50g young tamarind leaves – use more if you want more of a sauce coating
350g young eggplants (brinjal)
2 onions, peeled and diced
1 – 2 green chillies, or to taste
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tspn Indian chilli powder, or to taste
pinch turmeric powder
2 Tblspn ghee or Indian sesame oil
coriander leaves or finely chopped stems for garnish (optional)
Strip the leaves from the tamarind stalks. Tiny, tender stalks are ok, but remove all of the tougher ones. This can take some time – allow 30 minutes or so for this task.
Dice the brinjal into 2.5 – 3cm cubes. Immerse in salted water while you prepare the next steps.
Blend or grind the tamarind leaves into a coarse paste with a little water. Set aside.
Heat the ghee or oil in a khadai or saute pan and saute the onions, green chillies and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and golden.
Drain the eggplant well and add to the onions with the turmeric and chilli powder. Saute for 2 – 2.5 minutes, then cover and cook for 4 minutes or until the brinjal is s oft and tender. Add some water, a tspn or two at a time, if required.
Add the tamarind leaf paste with a little water, and mix well. Put the lid back on and cook until the paste is cooked out and the brinjal and paste are well combined.
Season with sea salt, mix well, and serve with rice and ghee. Garnish with coriander leaves if desired.