Eggplant Curry and Coconut Dal

This versatile veggie dish can be made vegan and prepared the day before. Plus the dal recipe is great in its own right.


3 large eggplants (750g), stalks removed, each eggplant cut lengthways into 6 slices 3 tbsp olive oil 220g tofu roughly grated 1 tsp lime zest, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice 45g hot mango pickle, roughly chopped, 5g coriander 100g large spinach leaves Salt and black pepper

Coconut Dal:

3 tbsp olive oil 250g Onion, finely chopped 45g fresh ginger, finely chopped 2 red chillies, finely chopped 30 fresh curry leaves (if you can’t get any, you can also do without) 1 tsp black mustard seeds 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground coriander ½ tsp ground turmeric 2 tsp medium curry powder 2 tsp tomato paste 100g dried red lentils 400ml tin of coconut milk


Heat the oven to 220°C fan. In a large bowl, toss the eggplants together with the oil, 3⁄4 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Spread out on two parchment-lined baking trays and bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway, until softened and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

For the coconut dal, put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the shallots and fry for 8 minutes, until golden. Add the ginger, half the chilli and half the curry leaves (if using), cook for 2 minutes, then add the spices, tomato paste and lentils.

Stir for a minute then add the coconut milk, 600ml of water and 3⁄4 tsp of salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the lentils are soft and the sauce is thick. Pour into a medium baking dish, around 28cm by 18cm, if making the aubergine rolls, and set aside.

In a small bowl, toss together the paneer, lime zest, 1 tbsp of lime juice, mango pickle, the coriander and 1⁄8 tsp of salt.

Place a spinach leaf on top of each slice of aubergine. Put 1 heaped tsp of the paneer mixture in the middle, then roll up the aubergine, from the thinner end at the top down to the thicker bottom end, so the filling is encased. Put the aubergine roll seam-side down in the lentil sauce, and repeat with the remaining aubergine slices, spinach and paneer.

You should end up with about 18 rolls, all sitting snugly in the sauce. Press the rolls gently into the sauce, but not so far that they are submerged, and bake for 15–20 minutes, until the aubergine is golden brown on top and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Drizzle over the lime juice and serve with the coriander sprinkled on top.

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