Melting Aubergine Curry (Naturally vegan)
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
I don't know about you, but I am an absolute sucker for a good curry. Indian curry, Thai curry, Sri Lankan curry...to be, honest all curries. Spice is my thing. Want to woo me? Take me to the local Indian restaurant for a good Dansak, Pathia, or Madras and I'll love you for life. Okay.. maybe not...but I‘ll definitely love the curry and thank you for taking me!
So you get the point.
Aside from the very many varieties of curry dishes that I LOVE, one dish that really floats my boat at an Indian restaurant is a Brinjal Bhaji. Now, this is commonly ordered as a side dish and typically consists of wonderfully, buttery, melty aubergine, garlic, onion, spices, peas and tomato paste. Its lovely and I could eat it as my main meal, although I’m not sure if etiquette allows for that.
This curry I’m sharing with you today is a slight take on the Brinjal Bhaji and is a fantastic, meat free and naturally vegan dish which will satisfy your soul. It’s beautifully fragrant, salty, gently spicy, sweet, and a tad sour, tingling all of your taste buds at once, and has, as the title suggests, a wonderful melting texture. This texture comes from roasted whole aubergine which is then split open, and the melting buttery flesh scooped out directly into the curry. It's extremely satisfying.
As we do not use any chunky cut vegetables here, it means the entire dish has this melt-in-your-mouth quality which, personally, I love. If, however, you prefer something more hearty, you can also add some chickpeas for a nice texture combination! Alternatively, if you're a meat or fish eater, you could also use this recipe as a base to add your chosen protein.
Ahh, a dish of so many possibilities....
Although this curry tastes lovely freshly made, my real advice to you is to make this the day before, and allow it to rest in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours. The well known curry myth is that the flavours of a curry intensify over time (which is why take-away leftovers are meant to taste better the next day!) - and I can absolutely attest this, at least, in the case of this particular curry. If you are like me, though, disorganised and rarely have a moment to yourself, you can also make the curry earlier on in the day and leave in the fridge to reheat for dinner. If you can stomach the smell of curry first thing in the morning (which, as a curry lover, I totally can), then perhaps make it after you've had breakfast? Just a suggestion.
This curry really has an authentic flavour that is not overly Westernised, like so many vegetarian curry recipes, so you really feel like you've just ordered a great Indian take-away! Served with a freshly home-made naan (see my recipe for Easy Naan Bread) and/or a nice serving of pilau rice, you'll be in curry heaven.
And without further ado, THE RECIPE!
Melting Aubergine & Spinach Curry
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes (FYI this includes the time to roast your aubergine where there is no effort involved at all!)
2 Large aubergine
1.5 Tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil) for frying
1 Medium onion, finely diced
2 Tsp cumin seeds
5 cloves of garlic, finely diced or crushed
2 Tsp chilli paste (or chilli flakes/freshly chopped chilli)
400g (1 can) chopped tomatoes
1/2 Tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1/2 Tsp cumin powder
1/2 Tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
100 g of fresh spinach
Fresh chopped coriander for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 220C and, using a fork or skewer, prick a few holes in your aubergines and place them on a baking tray
Bake your aubergines for 1 hour until the skin has crisped up and the interior has softened all the way through. Don't worry if the skin is burning, this actually adds to the flavour of the flesh and we wont be using the skin anyhow!
About 30 minutes into baking, heat oil in a pan on a medium high heat.
Add cumin seeds and cook for 2 minutes until nutty and fragrant
Add the finely diced onion and cook until softened
Add the garlic and cook with onions until they have browned
Add the chopped tomatoes along with the sugar, salt, and remaining spices and reduce heat to low, simmering for 10 minutes or so, occasionally stirring
Whilst the curry is simmering, remove your aubergine from the oven, and place in a plate to cool slightly
Add the spinach and some chopped coriander and stir through until wilted
When cooled enough to handle, slice the aubergine lengthways and scoop the melting flesh from the skin and place the chunks directly into the curry
Stir to combine but do not over-stir as you will break up the aubergine flesh too much
Allow to simmer for a few minutes before plating up. Serve with freshly chopped coriander and naan bread or pilau rice, or allow to cool before chilling in the fridge for between 8 - 48 hours for a more intense flavour!