Lentil and aubergine curry


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

A really perfect partner dish for Steamed Rice Cakes this curry, Sambhar, is equally delicious with boiled basmati rice and, interestingly, with crusty white bread, too. The choice of vegetables used in the dish is flexible - in this version aubergine and tomatoes are used. Pigeon peas are now widely available from most Indian shops.


  • 225 g/8 oz/1 cup pigeon peas (toor dhal)
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 large aubergine (eggplant), quartered lengthways and cut into 2.5cm/1 in pieces
  • 7.5 ml/ tsp salt, or to taste
  • 15 ml/1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5 ml/1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1–4 dried red chillies, broken up
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 225 g/8 oz fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp tamarind juice or the juice of 1 lime
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves and stalks, finely chopped


  1. Put the peas in a large pan and add the turmeric and 1.2 litres/2 pints/5 cups cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3–4 minutes or until all the foam subsides from the surface. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.

  2. Add the aubergine and salt, re-cover the pan and continue to cook for a further 8–10 minutes or until the aubergine is tender when prodded with a fork.

  3. Meanwhile, preheat a small, heavy pan over a medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the coriander, cumin, dried chillies, peppercorns and mustard seeds. Stir and dry-roast for 30 seconds, until they begin to release their aroma.

  4. Remove the spices from the pan and leave them to cool, then grind finely in a coffee or spice grinder. Add the spice mix to the lentils.

  5. Stir in the tomatoes and tamarind or lime juice. Simmer for 2–3 minutes. Add the chopped coriander, remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Per portion Energy 215kcal/914kJ; Protein 15.5g; Carbohydrate 36.2g, of which sugars 3.1g; Fat 2.1g, of which saturates 0.3g; Cholesterol 0mg; Calcium 69.8mg; Fibre 4.8g; Sodium 28mg.