I love cooking curries – especially for Mrs Romance. Over the next few Wednesdays I’ll be telling you how I cook my favourite Indian dishes in our curry series. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
This is one of my very favourite curries. The way the eggplant absorbs all the curry flavours then turns all gooey and soft makes this one of Mrs Romance’s favourites too.
The funny thing is, whenever I go out for a curry with my other English mates – a tough crowd for the restaurants to please – there’s always one of us that orders the eggplant curry. But he never eats it! Surprisingly, the brinjal bhaji is one of the hotter dishes on Indian restaurant menus and he can’t handle it!
Fortunately the rest of us tuck in. He sees it as a way to get us all to eat some veggies – he gets terrible mother hen syndrome!
This dish is very easy to make though. The trick is cooking the eggplant in the curry paste before adding anything else. Eggplant absorbs every flavour you put with it – especially when you first start cooking. So if you start with onions, the eggplant will mostly taste of onions.
Remember, eggplant really is absorbent. It’ll soak up all the oil from your curry paste, so be ready to add a little more oil if needed.
Brinjal Bhaji Eggplant Curry
- 1 med-large eggplant - cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 potatoes (waxy) or about the same weight as the eggplant - cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 med onion - chopped
- 1 - 2 garlic cloves - finely chopped
- 1 tomato - chopped
- 1 chilli (optional) - finely chopped
- ½ - ¼ tin of chopped tomato
- ¼ cup rice bran oil
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp curry powder - I used Keen’s
- ½ tsp turmeric (optional)
- Salt to season
- Toast the coriander seeds and half the cumin in a hot, high-edged pan or saucepan, then transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind into powder.
- Par-boil the potato either in the microwave (about 8 minutes on high) or in a pan. The potato pieces should stay whole but fall off the tip of a knife when stabbed.
- Meanwhile heat oil in the pan and add the powder, the curry powder and the remaining cumin seeds.
- When the cumin seeds start to sizzle and pop, add the eggplant pieces and stir to ensure all sides are covered in the curry paste. Watch how much oil the eggplant absorbs - add a little more if things start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When the eggplant starts to change colour and the curry paste is fully absorbed, add the onion, garlic and chopped chilli.
- When the onions have started going transparent, add the ½ tin of tomato and combine well.
- Add the potatoes and a tablespoon or so of water. You can use some of the water from the potatoes if you like. This will make the sauce thicken too.
- Add the turmeric for a bit of extra colour, cover and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
- Remove lid, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes with the lid off - add the fresh tomato at this stage. If the curry looks a bit dry or you want it to have more sauce, add a bit more of the tomato from the tin.
- Test how cooked the eggplant and potato is by tapping gently on an edge with your spoon. If the potato dents or collapses, it’s done. If the eggplant squishes, you’re in the right track. If this doesn’t happen, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Check frequently until the potato and eggplant are tender and soft.
- Uncover the pan, increase the heat until the curry bubbles, then either remove from heat and cover or serve immediately.
This curry doesn’t freeze that well because when you defrost it, the eggplant goes to mush. However, the flavours in the eggplant really develop by the second day, so keeping it in the fridge for up to five days is actually a pretty good idea!
I haven’t tried this, but I think adding pork mince or pork and veal mince blend to this recipe when you cook the onions would make it even richer. You’d have to add more tomato and spices too though.
Try adding other curry pastes at the beginning to change the flavour. A tandoori paste or a vindaloo paste added when you’re sealing the eggplant at the beginning would give a bit of extra punch to the dish.
I also add a dash of white vinegar in step 8, which tenderises the eggplant a bit more and adds a little acidity.
This curry recipe is gluten free, vegetarian and dairy free too!
Have you cooked this kind of curry before? Do you have any tips or alterations to suggest? What would you do if one of your group of friends kept ordering a dish but never ate it?