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 – ‘brinjal’ being the Urdu word for ‘eggplant’ – 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
Serves 4-6 – takes about an hour to make
Here’s what you need:
- 1 med-large eggplant – cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 potatoes (or about the same weight as the eggplant) that you’d use for roasting – cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 med onion – coarsely chopped
- 1-2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
- 1 fresh tomato – finely chopped
- 1 chilli (optional) – finely sliced
- ½ tin of chopped tomato or ½ cup of tomato passata
- ¼ cup of ghee or oil and butter
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp curry powder – I used Keen’s
- ½ tsp turmeric (optional)
- Salt to season
Here’s what you do:
- Toast the coriander and half the cumin in a hot, high-edged pan or saucepan until fragrant, then grind into powder in a pestle and mortar.
- Par-boil the potato pieces until they fall off the tip of your knife.
- Heat the oil in the pan you toasted the cumin and coriander, add the ground seeds, the curry powder and the remaining cumin seeds.
- When the cumin seeds begin to sizzle and pop, add the eggplant pieces and stir until the spice paste covers all sides of the eggplant. Continue cooking and stirring until the eggplant starts to change colour. You may need to add a little more oil as the eggplant is very absorbent.
- Add the onion, garlic and fresh chilli. Cook until the onion becomes transparent.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and combine well. Then add the potatoes plus a tablespoon or so of water. You can use the water the potatoes were cooked in. The extra starch will help thicken the sauce.
- Add turmeric now if you wish. This adds extra colour to the dish. Cover and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, add the fresh chopped tomato and cook for a further 10 minutes. If the curry is looking a bit dry, add more tinned tomato or passata.
- Test to see if the eggplant is cooked by tapping a piece gently with a spoon. If the eggplant collapses, you’re almost there. If this doesn’t happen, cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
- When the potato and eggplant are cooked through and are tender, uncover the pan and turn the heat up to high until the sauce bubbles. 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 four 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?