Eggplant Curry / Kattharikai Kari

Whoops, I forgot to post yesterday’s recipe. Please count this for Tuesday — I don’t want to break my daily streak! 🙂

Last night, I cooked this eggplant curry to take to my Global Asian Studies start of semester potluck; I wanted something luscious and richly satisfying, for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. Lovely with rice or bread; I happen to have naan in the freezer, so I’m going to grab that and bring it along.

Don’t hesitate to use plenty of oil for the first stages, so the eggplant fries and browns well — that’s where you get a big burst of flavor. If it’s starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, just add a little water and scrape up the browned bits; that’ll make a lovely sauce.

If you have excess oil at the end, you can always drain it off. You can spoon the oil out, but I’ll usually just tilt the pan and let any extra oil collect in one area, then blot that up with a paper towel. Easy!


Eggplant Curry / Kattharikai Kari

(30 minutes draining time + 30 minutes, serves 6)

My mother’s eggplant curry was always a huge hit at Sri Lankan dinner parties, and is particularly popular with vegetarians.

1 lb eggplant, roughly 1-inch cubes
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup oil or ghee
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp black mustard seed
1 dozen curry leaves
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp Sri Lankan curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk

1. Prep eggplant — rub with turmeric and salt and then set in a colander to drain at least 30 minutes, which will draw out the bitter water. Blot dry with paper towels.

2. Sauté onions in oil on medium-high, stirring, with cumin seed, black mustard seed, and curry leaves, until golden.

3. Add eggplant, sugar, and curry powder, and sauté for another ten minutes or so, until eggplant is nicely fried. (Add more oil or ghee if needed.)

4. Add coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes until well blended. Serve hot with rice or naan—particularly nice for a vegetarian dinner with lentils as the main protein.

Variation: Eggplant and bell pepper work well together in this dish; just add chopped bell pepper about five minutes into frying the eggplant for a nice sweet element to the dish. Sometimes I make a nightshade curry, adding potatoes and tomatoes as well — small cubed potatoes would go into the onions first, then eggplant and spices, then bell pepper, then tomato, with a few minutes between each addition.


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