Eggplants are super delicious if you allow them to cook right down and caramelise. To caramelise something like eggplant you need to add either fat or sugar, in fact this applies to any food that doesn’t have its own fat or sugar built-in. So you can understand why for this vegan eggplant curry dish, they’re quite often deep-fried.
But wait, you can air-fry them too! We used to make an eggplant curry that was served with lamb madras and biryani rice. So yummy. I never actually made this part of the dish myself, so this is my recollection of what flavours were in there. I think I’ve nailed it.
It was one of my favourites at the time but we did deep fry the eggplant to make them golden brown and sticky. Eggplants are like a sponge, put them in oil and they soak it right up. Apart from not needing all that oil, we also don’t need all the mess. So I got to thinking, why don’t we just brush oil over the eggplant and air fry it until it’s golden brown. It works well 🙂
When you read this recipe there are a few things you’re going to wonder about, so let’s get them sorted.
- Read the whole recipe first. I’ve written what I did at home in chronological order so you’ll be able to do each step as it comes up and there’s not a lot of time wasted in between.
- Kashmiri chilli isn’t as hot as many chilli powders on the market, but it does give a touch of heat and that amazing red colour to your curries.
- Yes, there are a lot of spices, and it seems like it may be too much, but it’s not, this dish is full of flavour, and without this much spice, it would be underwhelming.
- Whatever oil you choose to use, it’s best to use a non-flavoured oil with a high smoke point. Grab this free resource.
- Cassia bark powder is better for savoury dishes than cinnamon if you can get it. Sometimes you’ll see “cassia cinnamon” in small letters on the pack or jar.
- When purchasing spices it’s almost always better to buy seeds rather than powders. However, remember seeds will take up more room in a tsp than powder so you need to take that into account. As an example think about what would happen if you had a tablespoon of star anise or a tablespoon of star anise powder.
- Large eggplants will soak up more oil than the longer, thinner varieties. However, they’re both like sponges so you may be surprised at how much they’ll be able to hold on to. Hence being able to brush the eggplant with oil rather than soaking it in oil tends to be a healthier option.
- I’m lucky enough to have a curry plant in my garden so I just grabbed a stem, it had 15 leaves on it. This dish really isn’t the same without it, but so you can find them at most Indian supermarkets or good greengrocers. They impart a lovely flavour to the dish. You can freeze any leftovers to use in other curries.
- I love Annalisa’s whole tomatoes because they’re thick and of excellent quality. You can purchase them from Woolworths and Coles supermarkets in Australia.
If you love big flavours as I do, you might like to look at my spice bend eBooks. They’re great for making quick easy meals that taste amazing. This book has loads of other blends not just Indian or Srilankan.
Here are some other dishes you could make to go with this dish?
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- 1 Thermomix
- 1 Air Fryer
FOR THE EGGPLANT:
- 100 g oil I used light EVVO
- 600 g eggplant 1 large or 3 thin
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 10 g cassia powder or cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 20 g Paprika sweet
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp flaked salt or ½ tsp fine salt
- 15 g garlic cloves 4 cloves approx.
- 15 g fresh ginger 1.5cm piece approx.
- 60 g oil
- 15 or so curry leaves fresh (you can purchase these frozen or freeze leftovers)
- 150 g red onion thinly sliced
- 220 g 1/2 tin tomatoes I use Annalisa brand
- 60 g coconut cream
- ½ tsp flaked salt
START WITH THE EGGPLANT:
- Slice the eggplant and brush with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the eggplant slices on the air fryer trays and pop them in the machine. Set the air fryer for 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. After 15 minutes, rearrange the trays and set again for another 10 to 15 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
MAKE THE CURRY BLEND:
- Add the curry spices to the TM bowl and blitz for 20 seconds/speed 9. Remove and set aside.
MAKE THE CURRY:
- Weigh the garlic and ginger into the TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds/speed 6
- Add the oil and curry leaves to the bowl, place the simmering basket on top of the lid, then set for 2 mins/120°c/sp 1
- In the meantime, slice the onion and chop the eggplant into bite-size pieces.
- Add the onion and spice blend back to the TM place the simmering basket on top of the lid and cook for 5 mins/120°C/reverse speed +1
- Add the tinned tomatoes, coconut cream, eggplant and salt to the TM bowl place the simmering basket on top of the lid and cook for a further 10 mins/ 120°c/ reverse speed + 1
- Serve as a side dish.
Want to know more?
Why not make your own spice? Its easy.