This Sri Lankan dish makes a great condiment used with rice, roasted vegetables or even sauteed tofu. It is traditionally cooked in a clay pot over an open flame and is a great accompaniment to other Sri Lankan and Indian dishes. But it is also really delicious on its own with steamed rice, appa (rice hoppers), or roti or paratha. It can be served warm, but is even better the next day at room temperature. It will keep in the fridge for two weeks in a sealed container.
Eggplant Pahi is both sour, sweet and spicy, and in Sinhalese it is called Wambatu Moju or Brinjal Moju. It is like a cross between a pickle and a relish and is one of Sri Lanka’s most famous dishes. The beautiful balance of sweet and sour especially makes this dish a favourite festive dish. There are many different recipes for it.
In Plenty More, Ottolenghi ventures into the world of Sri Lankan cooking with a recipe for this same sweet-sour curry that is traditionally thought of as more of a Sri Lankan style pickle. He does not elaborate on the roots of this dish which is disappointing as it is such a classic Sri Lankan dish. I used the recipe as inspiration but have altered the recipe significantly.
Some recipes, like the one that Ottolenghi uses, call for deep frying the eggplant. I admit, this is really tasty. But other recipes saute or steam the eggplant and saute the capsicum (if using) and onion. I use the latter approach in this recipe to avoid too much fried food.
I have made a couple of other adjustments. Ottolenghi has a habit of specifying curry powder – it is not nearly as precise enough, given the wide range of different curry powders that vary significantly in taste and heat levels. I have specified a Sri Lankan curry powder (unroasted)- it is very easy to make or can be purchased. Also I have added a little tamarind to supplement the tartness.
With all of the changes it is hardly his recipe any more. If you prefer his original recipes you can find them in his books or his Guardian column.
Similar dishes include Capsicums cooked in Tomato and Garlic, Pineapple and Coconut Curry, Pumpkin and Roasted Coconut Curry, and Snake Bean Curry.
Browse all of our Sri Lankan dishes and our Eggplant recipes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here, and we have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer recipes.
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