Taken from The Kitchen Without Borders
Chef Shanthini, Sri Lanka
This aubergine curry is a crowd favourite at Eat Offbeat. The aubergine slices need to sweat a bit prior to frying, which helps them crisp up better. If you have extra hands in the kitchen, the two aspects of this dish could be made simultaneously. Like most curries, this is best served over fresh basmati rice.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish
- 2 medium aubergines, cut into 2 x 1-inch slices
- 2tsp ground turmeric
- 1tbs, plus 2 pinches, sea salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1tbs fenugreek seeds
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 10 curry leaves
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1tsp chilli powder
- 1tbs ground cumin
- 1tbs tomato paste
- 1tbs freshly ground black pepper
- 2tbs sugar
- Cooked basmati rice, for serving
- ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
Sprinkle the aubergine slices with one teaspoon of turmeric and one tablespoon of salt. Let the slices rest on a paper towel-lined plate for 15 minutes.
To fry the aubergine, pour vegetable oil to a depth of at least 5cm into a large stockpot and clip a thermometer to the side, making sure it doesn't touch the bottom. Heat the oil to 190°C over high heat, then lower the heat to medium to maintain that temperature during frying. While the oil is heating up, line a large plate with paper towels.
Working in batches and using a slotted spoon, place the aubergine in the oil. Fry until all the sides turn golden, gently stirring, for two to three minutes, and then quickly remove them with the slotted spoon. Place on the towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Heat the fenugreek seeds in a small dry frying pan over medium heat, just until they become fragrant, about two minutes. Remove the seeds from the heat and grind in a food processor or spice grinder. Set aside.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until lightly browned, about five minutes. Add the curry leaves and garlic and sauté for five minutes. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook for five minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and remaining one teaspoon of turmeric, then gently fold in the aubergine.
Stir in one cup of water (237ml), another pinch of salt, the tomato paste, black pepper, and ground fenugreek seeds, and continue cooking for five minutes more.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar. Serve over basmati rice, garnished with coriander.
- Photography by Penny De Los Santos*
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