What’s a Brinjal? An often purple vegetable that you may know as aubergine or eggplant. But in India, Southeast Asia and South Africa an eggplant is a brinjal and brinjals make excellent vessels for a spicy curry. A few weeks ago I was at Patel Brothers in Jackson Heights, the mother of Indian grocery stores. There I found brinjals a plenty and in the miniature. I’ve always thought of these baby eggplants as “Thai” eggplants but I’ve since learned they grow all over the place.
After searching high and low for a good brinjal recipe, I decided to embark on a curry concoction of my own. I know “winging it” can be scary in the kitchen for some of you but you really can’t go wrong with a curry.
Stuffed Brinjal Curry
You will need
4 cups cooked basmati rice (to serve)
8 baby eggplants
3 medium-sized yellow onions
3 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil + more as needed
4 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste or 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 pinch of cinnamon
6 fresh curry leaves if you have them or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or 4 whole cloves (make sure to remove the cloves before serving)
2 inch piece cinnamon
1. Make deep slits in an X at the base of the eggplant, almost cutting through to the stem. This will help your brinjals cook faster and absorb more flavor. Reserve all the cut brinjals in a large bowl of cold water until ready to use.
2. Chop the onions into a rough dice. In a large saucepan, heat two Tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for 4 minutes. Then add the chili powder, cinnamon and ground coriander and cook for another minute. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool for 20 minutes.
3. In a food processor, pulse the onion mixture until it becomes a fine paste.
4. Dry off each eggplant and use your fingers to coat each eggplant in the paste, making sure you fill in the incisions you made earlier. Reserve remaining paste.
5. Heat two Tablespoons of olive oil in the same pan and add the cloves and curry leaves. Sauté for a moment and then carefully add the stuffed eggplants to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on one side and then gently rotate to cook on another side for 5 more minutes. Add more oil as needed.
6. Now add the rest of the onion paste and 1 cup of water. Cover the pan (with a cookie sheet if you don’t have a large lid) and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes until the eggplants become soft. You will need to add more water as you go along. Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice.