IF you can get them, use ‘finger’ aubergines for this. They are shaped rather like small courgettes and hold their shape well during cooking. This is a simple curry, but interesting as it uses a lot of fennel seeds, a common flavour in Bangladeshi food.
This recipe is from Rick Stein’s great new book Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey published by BBC books.
600g aubergines, ideally Asian finger aubergines
150ml vegetable oil
40g fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
40g garlic, roughly chopped
2 green cayenne chillies, finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp freshly ground coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
400g chopped tomatoes, fresh or from a can
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp each chopped fresh coriander and mint
Top and tail the aubergines and cut in half lengthways. If using larger Mediterranean-style aubergines, cut each one across in half and then each piece lengthways into 6–8 wedges. Toss them with ½ tsp salt and set aside in a colander for 10 minutes.
Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Pour the oil into a shallow dish. Brush the aubergine pieces, a few at a time, with oil, put them in the frying pan and cook for 3–4 minutes on each side until richly browned. Cooking the aubergines in this way helps prevent them from absorbing too much oil, which would make the finished dish greasy. Set aside in a bowl and repeat with the remaining aubergines.
Put the ginger, garlic and chilli into a mini food processor with 2–3 tbsp water and whizz to a smooth paste.
Put two tbsp of the remaining of the remaining oil into the frying pan and add the fennel and cumin seeds. Leave them to sizzle for a few seconds, then add the ginger and garlic paste and leave this to fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add the coriander and turmeric, fry for one minute and then add the tomatoes, black pepper, 3 tbsp water and ½ tbsp salt. Cover and leave to simmer for 8–10 minutes until reduced and thickened slightly.
Return the fried aubergine slices to the pan and stir well to coat in the sauce. Simmer for five minutes, then stir in the fresh coriander and mint and serve.
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