Unusual eggplant curry, with very little gravy in it, hence it is also called eggplant dry curry. The eggplant slices, are first rub with saffron, which I skipped, as saffron is expensive, and I like to save it for other dishes like Risotto, Paella, some Moroccan, or Iranian dishes with less spices. When I use saffron in my cooking, I like the saffron taste tobe dominant and present. Of course, you don't need to skip this process. If you do this process, then rub the eggplant with combination of crumbled saffron and salt before frying them. The other thing that intrigued me about this curry is the uses of pickling spices such as mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds. In addition to those spices, lemongrass, and pandan leaves, which just in case if you never knew, it is extremely fragrant, are both added to the recipe. In Indonesia, pandan leaf is mainly used for sweet dessert and cake alike. Therefore, when I saw this recipe in my cookbook, it made me curious abut the end result.
Just a little note, I found that this ginger grater will make your life easier, it is extremely useful if you do a lot of grating ginger, onion, I even grate my garlic with this grater. It is inexpensive, quick and very easy to use.
Eggplant Pahi. Sri Lankan Dry Eggplant Curry With Fragrant Pickling Spices
Recipe adapted from Alexandra Greely's Asian Soups, Stews, & Curries
serve 4 - 6
6 medium size Japanese or 4 medium size Chinese eggplants, cut into thick long (about 2 - inces) strips
onion, or red onion, sliced
2 pandan leaves, cut into 2 inches long
2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, sliced
10 - 15 curry leaves
1 cinnamon stick
enough vegetable oil to fry the eggplants
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
2 tsp freshly grated garlic
2 - 3 Thai chilies, thickly sliced (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbs corriander seeds
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tbs mustard seeds
Fry eggplant slices in a batch unti soft. Set aside.
Meanwhile, roast the pickling spices on a small skillet set over medium low heat, stirring continuously until fragrant, about a minute. Set aside to cool, then grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.
In a large pan set over medium heat, fry onion with 1 - 2 tablespoon vegetable until a little bit brown. Add pandan leaves, lemongrass, curry leaves, and cinnamon stick. Stir and continue to fry until fragrant. Add ginger, garlic, Thai chili if using, turmeric powder, and ground spices, stir to coat. Add half a cup of the coconut milk, stir and let it boil for a minute, then add the fried eggplant. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, carefully stir, you don't want to break apart the eggplant. Pour in the remaining coconut milk, stir to mix. Lower the heat to low, continue to cook until the coconut milk is hot, but don't let it to becomes boil. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with simple steam Basmati rice.