- 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
- 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.
Keywords: Brinjal Curry, Brinjal curry recipe, indian eggplant, eggplant curry, indian curry eggplant, vegan eggplant recipe, indian eggplant vegan