I love a rendang curry – the first time I ever made it, it was with slow roasted pork belly, finely sliced and slowly cooked in the sweet, sour, spicy sauce. It was so rich, so flavoursome, so fulsome and delightful, that I dared not attempt to recreate it again for many years. And then, moving my office (sounds fancy, it is also my dining room and general crap storage area), I came across a pile of old recipe notebooks, and started to pore through them in that classic way of procrastinating my any means possible. I found my pork belly rendang recipe, and scribbled down the component ingredients for the paste and sauce. I contemplated making it with jackfruit instead, but I decided to save that can for another day, and opted for slow-cooked creamy chickpeas and thinly sliced, meaty aubergine instead. Mrs J declared it one of the finest meals I had ever cooked – she says that a lot, so either my cookery improves on a daily basis, or she knows how to keep me sweet, but either way, I’m taking it. This should have served four people, and readers, it did not, but je ne regrette rien.

Serves four from 66p each.

(This post is not sponsored; I provide links to the ingredients that I use so you can see how I calculate my recipe costs, and I may earn a small commission if you click the links or purchase any ingredients.)

2 large onions, 22p (90p/kg)

6 cloves of garlic, 10p (20p/bulb)

40g fresh ginger, 12p (£1.50/500g)

1 tbsp lemongrass paste, 18p (£1.27/90g)

4 small red chillies, 12p (35p/12 approx)

1 tbsp cinnamon, 2p (65p/100g)

1 tsp cardamom, 5p (£1.49/50g)

400ml coconut milk, 50p (50p/400g)

2 tbsp lemon juice, 5p (39p/250ml)

400g chickpeas, 33p (33p/400g)

1 large aubergine, 70p (70p/each)

2 tomatoes, 25p (75p/6pk) – not a traditional ingredient in a rendang but I felt it was missing something by using jackfruit in place of beef, so added them here.

First peel and finely slice your onions – I admit that even after six or seven years of writing recipes and many restaurant kitchens, I cannot bear chopping onions. My eyes still sting and water at the third or fourth slice, so I pop a pair of these on and get on with it, or use frozen diced onions if I’m in a hurry, which work brilliantly in curries, soups, stews and similar. Toss half of them into a blender or food processor, and leave the other half in a bowl to one side to use later.

Peel and slice your garlic and add to the blender. Finely slice your ginger and add that too. Measure in the lemongrass, and add the chillies, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon juice. Pour in half the coconut milk, and blend to a thick paste.

Heat a little oil in a large nonstick pan and add the remaining onions. Pour over the curry paste and bring to a medium heat, and stir. Drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas and add to the pan. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, then refill the coconut milk can with cold tap water to add as the curry starts to thicken, so it doesn’t dry out. Cook on a low heat for 30 minutes, adding a little water here and there to keep it wet but not sloppy.

After 30 minutes, very finely slice your aubergine with a large heavy chefs knife so that the slices are almost transparent. This will take a little time and patience, so you can just dice it if you’re in a hurry, but I like the way the thin slices break down and almost disappear into the sauce, the only evidence of them being the traces that cling to the dark purple skin swirled throughout the dish. But if you are less poetically inclined towards your dinner, just chop it up and bung it in.

Dice the tomatoes and add along with the aubergine, and cook for a further ten minutes. Serve hot with bread or rice, or whatever takes your fancy.

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All text copyright Jack Monroe.

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