Caramelized Eggplant Curry

During my online search for blogs with a focus on Sri Lankan recipes, I came across Rice and Curry. I invited the author to share one of his recipes on this blog and he kindly agreed. So today’s guest blogger is Skiz Fernando and he will be sharing one of his favourite vegan recipes.

As a second-generation Sri Lankan-American, one of my main connections to the Motherland has been food. My mother used to make us rice & curry a couple of times a week, and we also used to get it at the various dinner parties thrown by the small community of Sri Lankans living in Baltimore, Maryland, where I grew up. Aside from cutlets and patties, which are any Sri Lankan kids’ favorites, I also developed a special affinity for brinjal curry. Since these dinner parties were usually ‘pot-luck,’ with everyone contributing a dish, I came to discover that the same lady was always responsible for bringing the brinjals, and that lady was none other than Aunty Manel.


Eggplant curry

All the Sri Lankan ladies living in Baltimore were great cooks, so it just goes to show how special Aunty Manel’s brinjal curry was by the fact that it returned by popular demand to table after table, and dinner party after dinner party. I was not even really into vegetables at the time, but these brinjals were too sublime and tasty to be vegetables. It probably helped that they were deep-fried–as anything deep-fried tastes good–but it wasn’t obvious to me at the time. Only years later when I bugged Aunty Manel for the recipe, did I realize how labor-intensive this dish actually was, as you had to deep fry the eggplant before sautéing it with spices and coconut milk. Today, even though I have the recipe, the dish is challenging, but still worth the time and effort. Speaking as one who never liked eggplant, I always tell people that this is going to be their favorite way to eat the vegetable from now on.

Pan Asian:  Aunty Manel’s Special Eggplant Curry 

1 lb. (500 g) eggplant

1/4 tsp. turmeric

oil for deep-frying

2 tbsp. oil

1 onion, sliced

2-3 green chilies, sliced

1 sprig curry leaves

2 inch (5 cm) stick cinnamon

3 cloves

1 tbsp. raw curry powder

1-2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. brown mustard seeds, ground

1/2 cup (125 ml) coconut milk

salt to taste

3 cloves garlic (A)

2 inch (5 cm) piece ginger (A)

1 tsp. sugar (A)

1 tsp. salt (A)

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar (A)

1/2 cup (125 ml) water (A)


1.)                Wash and cut eggplant into 2 in (5 cm) strips. Rub with salt and a dash of turmeric.

2.)                Deep fry eggplant until golden brown. Drain on newspaper.

3.)                Blend (A) list ingredients in a food processor.

4.)                Heat oil in pan. Sauté onions, green chilies, and curry leaves until onions are translucent. Add cinnamon, cloves, and dry spices.

5.)                Add  (A) and bring to a boil.

6.)                Reduce heat and add eggplant, coconut milk and salt. Toss well and simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Recipe Source: Skiz Fernando.

Short bio of Skiz Fernando:

Journalist, musician, and filmmaker, Skiz Fernando is the author of Rice and Curry: Sri Lankan Home Cooking (Hippocrene Books, 2011), a New York Times notable cookbook. He guided TV host Anthony Bourdain on a culinary tour of Sri Lanka for an episode of the popular Travel Channel series, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain.

Fernando blogs about spicy food  at: He also markets his own home-made spice blends, Skiz’s Original Sri Lankan Raw & Roasted Curry Powders. Fernando is the host and producer of a popular YouTube cooking show, Pan Asian.

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