What’s cooking today: Brinjal coconut curry with yellow rice

Tony Jackman’s brinjal (eggplant) coconut curry. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Brinjals make a great curry, and it’s a light meal too. This curry is sweetly spiced, with a coconut cream base, and is matched with dhania yoghurt.

My friend Devi Moodliar used to make a delicious and fragrant brinjal curry when we press types hung out at her and her husband Chan’s Talk of the Town restaurant in Cape Town in the Nineties. I don’t have her recipe but this is my take on it. I first roasted chunks of eggplant at a very high temperature to avoid them disintegrating. So they need only be added to the curry at the end, before serving; hence the need to spice them while roasting.


4 medium brinjals

6 Tbsp peanut oil

¼ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

3 Tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

Handful dried curry leaves

1 medium red onion, chopped

45 ml tomato purée

2 tsp chilli powder

2 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 x 3cm piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly

1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes

½ a can of water

1 tsp sugar

Salt (generous) to taste

1 x 400 g can coconut cream

For the coriander yoghurt:

90 ml full cream yoghurt mixed with 1 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves/dhania, ½ tsp garlic salt and ½ tsp white pepper.

Basmati rice, as needed, cooked with 1 tsp of dried turmeric and salt, according to the packet instructions or your preferred way of cooking rice.


The brinjal batons laid out after being spiced and roasted. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Preheat the oven to 240℃.

Slice brinjals into chunks (batons), fairly thickly as they reduce while roasting. Pat them dry.

Mix together the ground cumin, turmeric and ginger in a bowl. Add the peanut oil, season with salt and pepper and stir. Add the chunks of brinjal and toss thoroughly to coat.

Put them in an oven pan lined with baking paper and roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until one side is nicely browned. Turn carefully and roast on the other side for about 10 minutes but don’t allow them to dry out.

Keep them to one side at room temperature until needed.

Toast the mustard seeds in a heavy pot on the stove. Add the coconut oil and when it’s melted add the curry leaves and stir for a minute.

Add the chopped onion and sauté for 4 or 5 minutes, stirring.

Add the garlic, ginger, chilli powder and tomato purée and cook for 3 minutes, stirring.

Add the can of chopped tomatoes, half a can of water, a teaspoon of sugar and salt to taste and cook at a simmer for 10 minutes, stirring now and then.

Add the coconut cream, stir well for it to incorporate into the sauce, and simmer gently while the sauce thickens a little.

Taste and adjust salt if needed.

Make the coriander yoghurt and keep it to hand.

Cook the rice and have it ready.

When ready to serve, add the cooked brinjal chunks to the sauce, stir carefully, and heat it through.

Serve with a dollop of coriander yoghurt on top or in a bowl on the side, or both, and some chopped dhania/coriander leaves. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion of the Year 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is now available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.

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