This is a deceptively simple curry, drawing on the flavours of a Southern Indian fish curry called Moilee. This vegan version is rich and indulgent. It can keep in the fridge for 3 days, and will even taste better the next day, but make sure to reheat gently so as not to break up the aubergines. If making in advance, omit the lime juice, coriander and curry leaf temper, and add these just before serving. Serve alongside rice or chapati for a complete meal.
600g aubergine (about 2 large), cut widthways in half and then each half cut into 6 wedges
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable oil
250g datterini tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp plus 1 tsp virgin coconut oil, unmelted
5 stems fresh curry leaves (about 50 leaves)
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 whole dried kashmiri chilli, or other dried mild red chilli
2 small red onions, peeled and finely chopped (200g)
40g ginger, peeled and julienned (30g)
2 tins full fat coconut milk (800g)
1 green birdseye chilli, split down the middle lengthways
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
5 g fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
Fine sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220C. Add the aubergine, ½ tsp of the turmeric, all the vegetable oil and ½ teaspoon salt to a large, parchment-lined baking tray and toss to combine. Roast for 35 minutes, tossing halfway through, until softened and golden. Set aside until needed.
1. Add the tomatoes, a tablespoon of the coconut oil, 10 curry leaves and ¼ teaspoon salt to a small baking tray and toss roughly to combine. Place them in the oven in a rack below the aubergines and roast for 20 minutes until nicely coloured and the tomatoes have burst. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the base of the curry. Heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a large saute pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and dried chilli and cook for about 30 seconds or until the seeds start to pop. Add 25 curry leaves (about 2 1/2 stems) and cook, stirring occasionally, until they darken and become translucent. Next add the onions and cook to soften, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add 2 tbsp coconut milk to keep the mixture from drying out. Stir in the ginger and green chilli, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Stir in the remaining ½ teaspoon of turmeric all the garam masala and ground coriander and cook, stirring all the while, for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper, turn the heat up to medium-high, bring to a simmer and cook for 6 minutes until reduced by a quarter (or slightly thickened). Remove from the heat and gently stir in the roasted aubergine.
3. Lastly, make your tempered oil. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to a small frying over a medium heat. Once hot, add the remaining curry leaves (about 15 leaves) and cook for about a minute, stirring occasionally, until they darken and become translucent. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. To serve, stir the fresh coriander and lime juice into the curry and transfer to a large shallow bowl. Alternatively, serve it straight from the pan. Spoon over the tomatoes and any juices released then finish with the tempered curry leaf oil.