All the various components of this dish can be prepared a day in advance, if you want to get ahead. Keep all the elements separate and in the fridge, bringing everything back to room temperature before you assemble the dish. When you next see some fresh curry leaves, grab hold of them – they are sometimes around but then they disappear from the shelves for a while. Freeze what you don’t use so that they’re ready for when you next need them. Lightly fried in a tablespoon of oil, they make a wonderfully aromatic addition to this dish, sprinkled over with the pomegranate seeds before serving. If you’re going down the curry theme for the rest of your meal and have some poppadoms fried, these are great crumbled over. If you do this, you won’t need the almonds.
3 large aubergines (or 4 regular) (1.1kg)
100ml groundnut oil
200g Greek-style yoghurt
2 tsp medium curry powder
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 lime: finely grate the zest to get 1 tsp, then juice to get 2 tsp
1 onion, thinly sliced (150g)
30g flaked almonds
½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
½ tsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
40g pomegranate seeds
salt and black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.
2. Use a vegetable peeler to peel away strips of aubergine skin from top to bottom, leaving the aubergines with alternating strips of black skin and white flesh, like a zebra. Cut widthways into round slices, 2cm thick, and place in a large bowl. Mix well with 70ml of oil, ½ teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper, and spread out on a large parchment-lined baking tray. Roast for 40–45 minutes, until dark golden-brown, then set aside to cool.
3. Mix the yoghurt with 1 teaspoon of curry powder, the turmeric, lime juice, a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper. Keep in the fridge, until required.
4. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into a large frying pan and place on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the onion and fry for 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and dark golden-brown. Add the remaining teaspoon of curry powder, the almonds and a pinch of salt, and continue to fry for 2 minutes, until the almonds have lightly browned.
5.When you are ready to serve, arrange the aubergine slices on a large platter or individual plates, slightly overlapping. Spoon over the yoghurt sauce and top with the fried onion mix. Sprinkle over the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, pomegranate seeds and lime zest, and serve.