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Pan Fried Eggplant Curry

This is a flavorful thick curry in which chopped eggplant is pan fried and then added into a deliciously spiced curry sauce.

healthy vegan eggplant curry

This pan fried eggplant curry is an ode (of sorts) to my mom’s fried eggplant curry.

My mom makes her curry by first deep frying chopped pieces of eggplant. She then sets the fried eggplant aside and begins a rich and incredibly tasty, tomato and tamarind based curry. When the sauce is ready, she adds the fried eggplant into the sauce and let’s the sauce thicken up. 

In my 40+ years on this planet, I have not had an eggplant curry that could rival my mom’s!

This pan-fried eggplant curry I have here is quite different to my mom’s. It is a healthy-ish version made without tamarind.

The tamarind commonly used in curries and a lot of the south Asian cuisine I’ve been fortunate to enjoy, is the fibrous pulp that sits in bean-like pods on a tamarind tree. It’s native to Africa but can also be found in many tropical regions such as India and Sri Lanka.

Ripened tamarind pulp is usually slightly sweet and tangy. It tends to add a tangy and smoky depth of flavor to dishes. 

While I’ve seen tamarind pods in local stores from time to time, getting the pulp from the pods is rather time consuming – as you can see here. I have found ready-made tamarind pulp in a few specialty stores around Atlanta, but, since it’s not available at most stores, I opted to make this pan fried eggplant curry without it.

ingredients to make eggplant curry

Steps to make this easy pan fried eggplant curry:

Getting back to this pan fried curry, I opted to chop up a medium sized eggplant into fry-like strips. I then sautéed / pan-fried the eggplant with just a few tablespoons of oil, in a large, heavy-bottom pan instead of deep frying them. 

I made sure to set the heat on medium-high and stirred the eggplant a bit. Eggplant tends to get mushy when cooked so I was trying to get the eggplant “fries” to develop a crispy-ish skin on the outside before I added them to a curry.

After the eggplant was sautéed / pan fried, I set the pieces to drain on a paper towel and began the sauce.

pan frying eggplant before making a curry

I started the curry off with sautéing some onion until it was very lightly browned. I then added in some garlic and ginger to this. 

A quick side note, I use a bunch of fresh ginger and garlic in my recipes. Sometimes, if I know I’m going to have a crazy week, part of my meal prep on the weekend includes me peeling a bunch of garlic cloves and chunks of ginger and setting them aside in a mason jar so all I need to do is chop them up as needed during the week.

Sometimes, I go an extra step and chop up the garlic and grate the ginger and store them in separate jars. I feel it’s just a fresher option than the peeled and chopped garlic and ginger at stores. And, it is also a lot more budget friendly.

After the ginger and garlic had sautéed a bit, I added in all the spices such as coriander, smoked paprika, turmeric, cumin, and chili powder and stirred this mixture a bit. As the spices roast, they will have your kitchen smelling amazing!

tasty vegan eggplant curry healthy

I then added in a bit of coconut milk and stirred well. When it comes to coconut milk, not all varieties are alike. However, I’ve found that Chaokoh coconut milk (affiliate link) works best for me. Then I added in the eggplant into the curry sauce and let everything sit and hang for a bit. When the sauce had thickened a bit, I took this curry off the stove.

This pan fried eggplant is delicious with roti or rice.
But, you can make it a meal by combining it with:

Lentil Spinach Curry, butternut squash curry, and rice for a vegan feast.
Chicken curry, cauliflower curry, and roti for a very satisfying meal.
Shrimp curry, okra curry, and wild rice for a tasty supper.

healthy vegan eggplant curry

Pan Fried Eggplant Curry

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This is a flavorful thick curry in which chopped eggplant is pan fried and then added into a deliciously spiced curry sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 + 1 tbsp. olive oi
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 3 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL - chili flakes and cilantro chopped

Instructions

  1. Rinse and dry the eggplant and cut into fry-size piece.
  2. Peel and chop the onion.
  3. Also peel and chop the garlic and ginger.
  4. Add 3 tbsp. olive oil to a pan and let warm up.
  5. Carefully add in the cut eggplant and stir around so all or most of the pieces have been coated with olive oil.
  6. Stir the eggplant around ever so often so the pieces can get a bit of a char. Pan fry eggplant for 20 minutes or until all have a bit of a charred slightly crisp exterior.
  7. Then, set aside on a paper towel lined plate.
  8. Add the other 1 tbsp. of olive oil to the pan and add in the cut onion and saute for about 5 minutes until onions start sweating.
  9. Then add in the garlic and ginger and saute another 5 more minutes.
  10. Add in the coriander, smoked paprika, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, and stir well.
  11. Then add in the pan fried eggplant and stir.
  12. Finally add in the coconut milk and stir until all the ingredients are mixed well. Cook a minute or two and remove from heat.
  13. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Garnish with chili flakes and cilantro.
Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 138Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 139mgCarbohydrates 19gFiber 6gSugar 6gProtein 3g

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GINA

Thursday 15th of October 2020

As someone who doesn't LOVE eggplant but constantly buys it to try and persuade my taste buds, this recipe is delicious!! So full of flavor and maybe my new go to for eggplant preparation.

Shelley

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Oh, Shashi, this is absolutely gorgeous! And so easy, delicious and healthy, too - it just ticks all the boxes! And hey - great little tip on meal prepping ginger and garlic for hectic weeks by peeling a bunch on the weekend - super idea!

Dannii

Thursday 15th of October 2020

This is such a great way to use eggplant. So much flavour in this dish.

Adrianne

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Yes indeed I bet your home does smell amazing! This looks to die for! All that spice is making my hungry!!

Danielle Wolter

Thursday 15th of October 2020

I love a good eggplant curry and the flavors in this were so good! Plus it was super easy to make