One of my favourite restaurants in Southend specialises in Keralan cuisine – and when I couldn’t afford it but really wanted a rich, spicy curry, I decided to make my own version. Aubergines are comparitively expensive to buy individually, so look out for the bags of three or four, and eat them all week!

Serves 2:

2 aubergines
a pinch of salt
1 onion
a fat clove of garlic
2 tablespoons oil
1 red chilli or a pinch of the dried stuff
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tsp cumin (ground or seeds)
1/4 tsp English mustard
zest and juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice
1 x 400g carton of chopped tomatoes
a fistful of coriander, to serve

Cut the stems from the ends of the aubergines, and pierce the skin all over with a sharp knife or a fork. Pop into a mixing bowl or saucepan, and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt to draw out the natural bitter flavour. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic, and toss into a medium pan with the oil. Sweat the onions on a very low heat, stirring to ensure they don’t burn or stick. Finely chop the chilli and add to the pan, or pinch in your dried flakes. Add the turmeric, cumin and mustard, and stir to cook the spices a little.

Remove the aubergines from the water, cut into chunks and add to the pan. Stir in well to coat with the now-spicy oil, add the lemon juice and zest (if using), and turn the heat up to medium to brown the edges of the aubergine. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, until the aubergines are tender.

Finely shred the coriander and scatter on top to serve.


Keralan aubergine curry from A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe. Available to buy from The Hive, supporting your local independent book shop. Photography by Susan Bell for A Girl Called Jack.


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  1. Geez Louise, what’s with all the downer comments on The Guardian?! Love this recipe, Jack – now I have something to use the extra chickpeas I have in my fridge for! Would also be great with naan, methinks. 🙂

    • Most newspaper comments sections are a festival of snark and the Guardian’s no exception, but there’s a lot of appreciation on there amongst the cynicism.

      Great recipe Jack, and it’s really good to see your stuff in the Guardian!

  2. Did seem to be quite a lot of negative comments online, but most of those were from people who hadn’t actually tried it as you said Jack. Everyone likes different things anyway, so not everyone will like every recipe. Personally I think it sounds great and will be trying it, but not when my daughters in as she really doesn’t like aubergine! May try it with courgettes replacing the aubergine too as I have quite a few at the moment.

  3. I would just like to say jack that I think you and your ideas are amazing 🙂 you make everything sound so easy and inspiring 🙂 thank you for all your many ideas !! I’m making my way through them 🙂

  4. Cooking this now, chosen not to use chilli. Not personally a fan of scalding hot dinners! Each to his own I guess. Looking forward to nomming!

  5. We made this and it was brilliant – added in some mushrooms that needed using too.

    All the best to you Jack, loving the recipes here in New Zealand (wish our ingredients were as cheap as yours!)

  6. I’m amazed by the repetition in the comments week on week. Criticise tinned tomatoes, queries on the “authenticity” of the recipe and, my favourite, where you get x fresh herb for y pence? Don’t these people ever read more than one column?

  7. First made this several months ago after seeing the recipe in the Guardian. It’s now one of my favourite meals!

  8. I can’t find the chickpeas in the recipe, just in the URL. I have a can and would love to use it, what do I with it? Drain and add with the tomatoes? I sooo want to have this for dinner tomorrow!

  9. It’s good, I don’t normally salt or soak my aubergines, haven’t noticed them being particularly bitter. However they do brown better with some of the moisture removed.. Aubergines are 50p each in our local Tesco.

  10. I’ve just made this for tea and it was absolutely beautiful, and really easy too. I don’t know if the aubergines I bought were massive though but one was plenty for my husband and I. Will definitely make it again.

  11. This is delicious. Made it without chickpeas and afterward, as per comment of Mr Raupe, with. Still delicious, though more substantial. Drain, rinse and add with tomatoes, not a big deal x

  12. This recipe is delicious. But if by Keralan, you mean the state in the southern tip of India, then this recipe is not Keralan at all. Keralan cooking has a distinctive flavour from distinctive ratios that are used and this recipe is just not that. There are also some distinctive ingredients that haven’t been used.
    But it still is a good Indian dish.

  13. Just cooking this up now as an following slimming world and this with rice is a perfect dinner. Smells wonderful can’t wait to try. Think I used massive aubergines though as there‘s loads I couldn’t fit it all in the pan! Only supposed to serve 2 or 20?! There‘s tonnes!

  14. I’m on a low-fat, plant-based diet for a month and made this dish without oil. It was really tasty. I just added extra water and cooked it for longer with a lid semi-covering the frying pan. I noticed the smaller aubergine cubes cooked through better and ‘melted’. It was lovely the next day with pitta bread for lunch, too. Made two generous portions.

  15. Not even sure if I’m keen on Aubergine but I’m giving this a go right now.central heating broke down so spent the afternoon making strawberry jam, flavoured popcorn and now I’m making this.A great way to stay warm both inside and out. Well done Jack, recipe was so easy to follow,store cupboard stuff, with exception of the Aubergine, 50p

  16. I am also on Slimming world and this looks and sounds great and have not used Aubergines before so looking forward to trying this

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