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A flavorful recipe for Brinjal Curry (Indian Eggplant) gently simmered in a fragrant Masala sauce until meltingly tender. Serve with Indian-style Basmati Rice and naan bread for a delicious vegetarian or vegan Indian-inspired meal.
There isn’t a tree in the world the wind hasn’t shaken. ~Hindu Proverb
Here’s a delicious and healthy Indian recipe, called Brinjal Curry that highlights little eggplants and simmers them gently until meltingly tender in the most fragrant Masala Sauce. It takes about 1 1/2 hours to make so make this on a day when you have a little more time to spend in the kitchen.
Turn the Indian Eggplant into a meal by serving it up with Basmati Rice and Naan Bread. Simple but satisfying and full of so much flavor!
It was created by my friend Neicy who grew up in India who’s also shared with us her Chicken Biryani and Indian Lemon Rice. All of which are divine.
Ingredients in Brinjal Curry:
This recipe will may require a trip to your Asian Market– where you’ll need curry leaves, dahl, fresh shredded coconut (frozen), black mustard seeds, tamarind paste and tiny eggplants. A fun outing- of course wearing your masks. 🙂
What type of Eggplant to use in Brinjal Curry?
Typically a little, dark purple eggplant called Indian Eggplant are typically used in this recipe, but they are hard to find where we live so today we are using Thai eggplant.
Essentially any small eggplant will work here- Indian, Thai, fairytale, Japanese White Eggplant and Little Green Eggplant, less than 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Any larger will increase the simmering time- so just be prepared for that if going in that direction.
These Thai Eggplants are slightly bigger than a golf ball- so pretty tiny!
Start by cutting a crisscross slit into the eggplant almost all the through, leaving the stem side intact so the eggplant doesn’t fall apart when cooking. You can trim the stems off – or leave them on. I find them pretty cute.
Cover the eggplant with warm salted water for 30 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. Open slightly so the saltwater gets inside.
Then make the flavorful masala spice paste.
This starts with sauteing a little dry dal – ural dahl, or graham dahl or use split lentils. These will get blended into the spice paste and will work to thicken the sauce.
Add all the spices, toasting them until fragrant.
You’ll need fresh shredded coconut with can be found in the freezer section of most Asian markets. This is different from regular shredded coconut – this is actually fresh, not dried.
Add the coconut to a blender along with the toasted spices, salt and dahl. Pour in some water.
Blend until the dahl is broken up and it becomes a thick paste. Set this aside.
Make the Tamarind Water. In a medium bowl, mix tamarind paste, water and brown sugar.
Now you ready to cook the eggplant. It starts with tempering the black mustard seeds.
And the fresh curry leaves– both of which elevate this dish, so don’t leave them out.
You can also use frozen curry leaves in a pinch- often in at the Asian market in the freezer section.
Place this in a hot skillet with coconut oil or ghee.
Next, add the eggplant, and taking your time here, saute until the skins begin to blister slightly.
Then add the sliced onions.
Saute until the onions start melting and are translucent.
Add the tomatoes and give a stir.
Add the masala paste from the blender and mix to combine.
Stir the Masala Spice Paste for a couple of minutes until fragrant.
Pour in the Tamarind water.
Stir in the tamarind water and arrange the eggplants nicely in the sauce.
Bring the Brinjal Curry to a simmer, cover, and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes.
Give another good stir, and if possible, let some of that flavorful liquid get inside the eggplant, opening them up with two forks.
Arrange the eggplant once again, cover, and simmer for another 20-25 minutes.
Uncover and check for tenderness- they should be collapsing and tender. If not, continue simmering covered.
NOTE: If the sauce tastes “gritty”, it may be the dahl has not fully cooked through and dissolved into the sauce, so continue simmering covered until the dahl fully melts into the sauce.
Once the Brinjal Curry is cooked through, uncover, let it simmer uncovered for a few minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.
Taste for salt, adjusting. If you like a little more tang, add a squeeze of lemon if you like. If you want it slightly sweeter, add a bit more brown sugar. Heat, add cayenne.
Find your own perfect balance here. If for any reason this tastes bland, it most likely needs salt.
Top with fresh cilantro or more fried curry leaves.
You’ll love the aroma here, warming and delicious.
Serve the flavorful Brinjal Curry as a tasty side dish to your Indian Feast or as a delicious vegetarian/vegan meal along with basmati rice, and naan bread. Riata would be nice with this.
Hope you all love Niecy’s Indian Eggplant Recipe as much as we do… let us know in the notes below!
Brinjal Curry (Indian Eggplant)
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 75
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: side dish, vegan main, vegan, vegetarian
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegetarian
A flavorful recipe for Brinjal Curry (Indian Eggplant) gently simmered in a fragrant Masala Sauce until meltingly tender. Serve with Indian-style Basmati Rice and naan bread for a delicious vegetarian/ vegan Indian-inspired meal.
- 20–22 small, round or egg-shaped eggplant a little larger than a golf ball (3 to 3 1/2 lbs) ( like Indian eggplant, Thai Eggplant, Fairy Tale, Raavayya, Japanese White Egg, Ratna, Rhim Jhim, etc.)
Masala Spice Paste:
- 2–3 tablespoons coconut oil, or ghee
- 4 tablespoons dry lentil dahl (split lentils– red , yellow or orange) or use ural dahl (split white lentil dahl), or yellow mung dahl ( split mung beans)
- 5 dried whole red chilies ( like Indian Curd Chilies or Chile de Arbol)
- 4 tablespoons garam masala
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 fat garlic cloves
- 3 inches ginger, sliced thin
- 1 cup (fresh) grated coconut (easy to find in the frozen section at the Asian market)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tablespoons tamarind paste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cups water or veggie broth
- 2 tablespoons or ghee, or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing powder)
- 1/4 cup curry leaves (fresh, or use frozen)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup tomato, diced
- Make 2 cuts down the center of the eggplant to make an x, but only about 3/4 of the way down so that the eggplant is still intact. See photo. Place in a big bowl and cover the eggplants with warm water and mix in 2 tablespoons salt , let soak for about 20-30 mins, opening the eggplants a little if possible, and let stand while you prep the remaining ingredients. Drain.
Make the SPICE PASTE:
- Heat ghee on med-low heat. Saute, stirring the dahl until it becomes golden and lightens in color, and get pretty toasted all the way through, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium and then add dried chilies, garam masala, turmeric, coriander seeds, and black pepper. Stir until spices toast and become fragrant. Remove from heat and add dahl & spice mixture to a blender with the grated fresh grated coconut, whole garlic and sliced ginger. Add the salt, 1/2 cup water (or a little more- just enough to get the blender going) and pulse and blend until you have a uniform paste, adding more water to get the blender going if need be. Break up that dahl! Set aside.
Make the Tamarind Water: whisk with a fork the tamarind paste, brown sugar and water in a medium bowl. Set Aside.
- Heat oil on med heat in a saute pan or braiser and saute mustard seeds until they start to crackle, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Saute one minute. Then add the eggplant and stir often, until their color changes and the skin looks a bit blister-y, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add the sliced onion to the pan, stir and saute until onions become transparent.
- Add the masala spice paste and stir so all of the eggplant is covered. Cook 3-4 minutes stirring.
- Add the tomatoes and the Tamarind Water. Stir, and space eggplant evenly and make sure it is all mostly covered with the liquid. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 min.
- Open the lid and rearrange the brinjal, slightly prying them with a spoon so they open up a bit and soak up all the gravy. Cover and simmer for 20-25 more min.
- Check again. Eggplants are done when they are meltingly tender and collapsing. Taste the sauce. If it tastes gritty, it is likely the lentils have not fully cooked and incorporated into the sauce, so continue simmering covered until the lentils dissolve. If too tangy, add a little more brown sugar and possibly salt.
- Cook uncovered for 5 minutes to thicken up the masala sauce and concentrate those flavors.
- Taste for salt, adding more if necessary- please see notes!
- Garnish with chopped cilantro or fried curry leaves (sauteed in ghee to enhance flavor) and serve with basmati rice or naan. Enjoy!
Adjust the flavor. If you like a little more tang, add a squeeze of lemon or more tamarind water. If you want it slightly sweeter, add a bit more brown sugar. For more heat, add cayenne.
Find your own perfect balance here. If for any reason this tastes bland, it most likely needs salt. 🙂
If it tastes gritty, the dahl is not fully cooked, keep cooking – it should dissolve into the masala sauce.
- Serving Size: 1 `¼ cup made with Coconut oil
- Calories: 232
- Sugar: 12.3 g
- Sodium: 596.2 mg
- Fat: 12.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 7.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 26.1 g
- Fiber: 9.1 g
- Protein: 5.3 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: Brinjal Curry, Brinjal curry recipe, indian eggplant, eggplant curry, indian curry eggplant, vegan eggplant recipe, indian eggplant vegan
I love your recipes and make loads.
I want to make this recipe brinjal curry but only have normal aubergine. Can i adapt it?
Honestly Lyndsay- I only tried making this with the little round eggplants. I think using the bigger ones ( and cutting them) would alter the cooking time. I think you could adapt it, but may be tricky timing with the dal. Maybe make it without the dal?
I’ve just made this (sort of) and it was really delicious. I don’t love aubergine and I had a broccoli and cauliflower that I needed to use up so I used this sauce with broccoli and cauliflower and it was really delicious. I don’t know whether that makes me a complete philistine but to me it was gorgeous. I’ll definitely be using this sauce in the future with other veggies.
I love it Emma! Perfect use for the sauce, and love that you made it your own.
Curious if you can use split chana dal in the first cooking step? Or would it be too large to cook through and be grainy? Thanks!
Hi Nicole I think it would be too big- unless you soaked it first for a few hours to soften?
Extremely complex! Rich and (not to be gross) almost meat like.I felt perhaps the spices could be cut down a little, but other than that this ranks as one of the best curries I’ve made in a very long while.Exceptionally flavorful.
This was good but not my favorite, and I usually adore your recipes. When do you add the asafetida powder? Do the curry leaves get really of brown and disintegrate? The aromas are tantalizing and the flavors complex, unusual, tart, earthy. I am hoping that when I become more familiar with Indian cooking that these recipes will become easier. Right now they are a bit daunting with all of the steps. I threw in some chicken for my grandson who is not yet fond of eggplant.
Oh dear, sorry Mert! Yes, this one is a bit complex and requires a little finessing at the end to get the balance right. I see I missed adding that to the instructions, will add now.
This looks great, thanks Sylvia (and thanks to your friend)! If you can’t find tiny eggplants, could you use a chopped globe eggplant?
Hi Claire- I bet you could, cooking time may be slightly different, so I’d just really watch it. 🙂
I’ll try that, thanks Sylvia!
What is “ural dahl, or graham dahl ?”
And when you say “heng” you mean Hing?
Yes, Heng – sorry. They are types of split lentils.
Good recipe. Thanks!
Thnaks- glad you liked it!