Vegan Aubergine Curry
by Iona Berry
Most of us grew up with meat as the hero of our meals and with vegetables taking up the mere corners of our plates. It can be hard to know where to start if you're trying to flip the script and cook plant based meals that don’t feel like just eating a plate full of sides. Building an exciting, yet satisfying meal around vegetables - whether that’s a bunch of carrots or a humble head of cauliflower - can sometimes feel like a little daunting and underwhelming task.
Our new series, Veg and Two Veg is here to tackle just that and to explore all of the ways in which every day vegetables can be the star of the table without sacrificing flavour or heartiness. Whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a bunch, these recipes will fill your table with vibrant, deeply flavoured and satisfying dishes that you’ll be making on repeat.
This Sri Lankan inspired aubergine curry is colourful and vibrant to look at and the perfect balance between sweet, salty and sour in flavour.
This curry includes one of my favourite ingredients to use in a variety of different cuisines and that is tamarind paste. When used in this curry, the tamarind adds an intense sour flavour which I love and is unexpected in a creamy curry. This curry evokes memories of sunsets on the beach with a cold beer in hand and that can’t be a bad thing in my book.
I prefer to use baby aubergines here but you could absolutely use regular sized aubergines and cut them down into large chunks. I really like to use the coriander stalk as well as the leaves in this curry as they add great flavour - there are not a ton of spices used in this curry and I like to use the entire herb whenever possible. The fresh tomatoes add a lighter flavour than if I were to use canned or passata for instance. They lighten the whole dish whilst also adding body to the sauce.
Make sure to taste the curry at the end and tweak the flavours to suit your taste, this is a sour tasting curry so feel free to add a little more sugar if you prefer a sweeter flavour. And for the acidic lovers out there, then go wild with the lemon juice at the end. This curry is great served with itself but equally is great with some coconut rice, sticky rice or you could fry up some tofu pieces and add that into the curry which would be very delicious and filling. I have also made this with black venus rice, which looks beautiful and contrasts to the warm colours in the curry.
2 tbsp oil
350g baby aubergines, cut in half
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp brown sugar
5 curry leaves
2 medium/large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 bunch of coriander (stalk and leaves), finely diced
2 tbsp tamarind paste
400ml coconut milk
Juice of half a lemon
Fresh red chillies, finely sliced
Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Toss the baby aubergines in the oil and a pinch of salt. Lay them out flat onto a baking tray and roast them for 15 minutes until they are soft and crisp at the edges.
Heat the oil in a wok or a large heavy-based frying pan on medium heat. Cook the onion for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Add the garlic, ginger, brown sugar, black mustard seeds, turmeric and coriander stalks and continue cooking for 2 minutes, until the spices are fragrant.
Add in chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, lemon juice, tamarind paste and curry leaves with a good pinch of salt.
Simmer for 8-10 minutes to allow the sauce to reduce slightly. Taste the sauce and adjust with more tamarind/salt/lemon juice to suit your taste.
Serve with the roasted baby aubergines on top and with the garnishes of your choice. I love plenty of fresh red chilli and coconut.
By Iona Berry
Iona is our Development Chef, aka our go-to girl for developing, testing and tasting delicious dishes for you to all enjoy at home. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her either running or cycling, or trying out food markets and new restaurants around London. Continuous market research it would seem.