Whether you call them eggplants or aubergines, this eggplant curry just plain gets it.
I prefer using smaller eggplants as I prefer the flavour but you can use whatever is available.
So are you ready to make wambatu pahi? Let’s get started.
This Sri Lankan eggplant curry is delicious served as a side or vegetarian main course.
About this recipe…
I watched this recipe being prepared in a hotel restaurant in Hikkaduwa and have enjoyed making it at home ever since. I don’t even like eggplant normally.
This is a classic Sri Lankan way of preparing aubergine (eggplant) curry. The eggplant is cut into french fry like pieces and then deep fried until lightly browned and crispy.
Just a work of warning, the crispy eggplant pieces are really nice to snack on so don’t get carried away before finishing the curry. It’s easily done!
I always recommend getting all of your ingredients together before starting cooking.
This advice is even more important in a recipe like this. There are so many ingredients which is often the case with vegetarian curries.
The delicious blend of ingredients takes what is otherwise a rather boring vegetable and turns it into a masterpiece. I recommend using homemade tamarind concentrate and I have a recipe for that here. It’s better than any tamarind concentrate you can purchase.
You can prepare this curry a day before serving. In fact the flavours develop and personally, I think the flavour gets even better.
How to serve this eggplant curry…
As there is so much flavour in this eggplant curry, it can be served as a vegetarian main course. Simply serve it over some white rice and you’ll see why I love this eggplant curry so much.
I usually serve it as a side dish with a selection of meat or seafood curries.
Step by step…
There are a lot of ingredients in this eggplant curry so be sure to get them ready before you begin cooking.
Season the eggplant chips with the salt and ground turmeric.
Heat your oil until a small piece of eggplant sizzles when it hits the oil. Then cook in batches for about 5 minutes per batch or until lightly browned and crisp.
Transfer all of the fried eggplant to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
Do the same with the shallots. You could use larger shallots. I usually do but couldn’t get them this time.
These shallots should fry until light brown and tender inside.
When ready to cook, heat the coconut oil and add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add the cinnamon and cardamom.
Stir in the curry leaves and pandan leaves. Fry for about 30 seconds and then add the onions to fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and slit chillies.
Stir in the tomatoes and fry until they begin to break down and soften. About 3 minutes.
Stir in the ground spices followed by the tamarind and vinegar.
Add about 250ml (1 cup) water and bring to a simmer. Then cook it down to thicken.
To finish, add the fried eggplant and shallots and stir well to combine.
I think you’re going to love this one.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
2 medium aubergines, cut into one inch pieces
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground turmeric
Rapeseed (canola) oil for shallow frying
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom pods, bruised
20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
2 x 2.5cm x 2.5cm (1” x 1”) pandan leaves (optional)
1 red onion, finely chopped
10 green bird’s eye chillies, split lengthwise
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp distilled white vinegar or coconut vinegar
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
250ml (1 cup) thick coconut milk
Place the aubergine pieces in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the ground turmeric and salt. Mix well to coat and allow to sit while you heat the oil.
Heat about 5cm (2 inches) of vegetable oil in a large pan or wok until visibly hot and then add the eggplant (aubergine). You should do this in two or more batches to maintain the heat of the oil.
Fry until golden brown and then transfer to paper towels to soak up any excess oil. Fry the shallots in the same way but these should only be lightly browned to soften. Transfer these to paper towels too. You can discard the cooking oil.
Wipe the pan clean and then place it back on a medium-high heat. Add the coconut oil and when it melts stir in the mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds begin to crackle, reduce the heat to medium and add the cinnamon, cardamom pods, curry leaves and the pandan leaves (if using). Infuse the ingredients into the oil for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped onion. Fry this for about five minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the chillies and fry for 30 seconds and then add the remaining ingredients.
Simmer the sauce for a minute or two and then taste it. It should be a nice combination of sweet, sour and spicy. At this stage you can adjust the flavour to taste by adding more sugar, vinegar or tamarind. If you think it is too spicy, just add more coconut milk.
Once you’re happy with the sauce, pour in the fried aubergines and shallots. Bring up to heat, stirring it all together to combine. Season with salt to taste and serve.
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I hope you enjoy this eggplant curry. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.