Cinnamon and Turmeric Aubergine Fingers

With Lime Yogurt

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Preparation info

  • Serves

    4–6

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Spirit & Spice

By Ghillie Basan

Published 2019

  • About

Inspired by a street dish I had in Kerala, I first created this dish for Radio Scotland’s Kitchen Café. It is a delicious way to prepare aubergines and full of surprise, so much so they were described as ‘orgasmic’ by the effervescent Haitian broadcaster and food anthropologist Peggy Brunache, who felt she was cheating on her husband by eating them!

Ingredients

For the Yogurt

  • 6 heaped tablespoons thick, creamy yogurt
  • 1–2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • zest and juice of 1 lime (use 2 limes if not very juicy)
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt

    Method

    In a small bowl, beat the yogurt with the garlic, lime zest and juice, and most of the mint. Season with salt and put aside. Place the aubergine fingers in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and leave to weep for about 20 minutes. Rinse the salt off, lightly squeeze them, and pat dry with a clean dishtowel.

    Put the aubergine fingers in a shallow bowl or tin and toss in the turmeric, cinnamon and chilli. Depending on the size of the fingers, you might need to add a little more of the ground spices as they need to be completely coated. Heat the coconut oil in a wide, heavy-based frying pan – or you may need to divide the aubergines over two pans. Stir in the cumin and mustard seeds and the curry leaves to flavour the oil, then lay the aubergine fingers side by side in the pan. Fry them on both sides over a medium to high heat for a couple of minutes to seal the spices. Gradually pour in a third of the coconut milk. Let it bubble up around the aubergines and, when it has been absorbed and the pan is almost dry, flip the aubergine fingers over and gradually pour in a little more coconut milk. Keep cooking, drizzling in more coconut milk whenever the pan gets a bit dry looking, and when you have nearly run out of coconut milk, drizzle in a tablespoon of honey. The aubergines are ready when they are tender and crusted with spices but delightfully moist with a little of the coconut sauce clinging to them.

    Season the aubergine fingers with a little salt, drizzle some more honey over them, and sprinkle with the reserved mint. Serve hot with the lime yogurt.