Aubergine in a creamy peanut sauce

Aubergine in a creamy peanut sauce

I Love Curry
Jonathan Gregson

This is such a delicious dish that it is renowned across India. It is an orchestra of flavours; sweet, tangy, nutty, spicy and salty, one of those meals that even meat-eaters crave. It is rich so, though it takes less than 20 minutes to make, it is one to serve as a treat to friends. As aubergines collapse when cooked, Indians use small whole vegetables and make a deep cross from the base to just under the stalk - without cutting the aubergine into pieces - so you can see the whole vegetable and the insides get flavoured too. Serve with Indian breads or a pilaf.


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut
7 tablespoons lightly roasted or raw peanuts
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 largish onion, sliced
10g fresh root ginger, peeled weight, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
pinch fenugreek seeds
450g japanese aubergines, or small round aubergines, quartered but left attached at the stalk end, (see recipe introduction)
salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3-2/3 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon sugar or jaggery, or to taste
1 1/4-1 3/4 teaspoons tamarind paste
a little chopped fresh coriander, to serve


  1. In a small pan, gently dry roast the coriander seeds until they turn a light brown. Pour straight into a spice grinder or mortar. Add the sesame seeds and coconut to the pan and dry roast these until the coconut is golden. Add to the coriander seeds. Toast the peanuts (if raw) in the same way. Add the peanuts to the seeds and coconut and whizz or pestle to a fine powder.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and, once it is soft and colouring on the edges, the ginger. Once the onions are a lovely golden brown, spoon the whole lot into a blender, leaving behind the oil, and add the ground nut powder and 150ml water. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the remaining oil into the pan and add the remaining whole spices. Once the fenugreek seeds have browned, add the aubergines, give them a good stir in the oil and pour in the onion paste with 350ml water, the salt, turmeric, chilli powder and sugar. Bring to a boil, cover and cook gently for 10–15 minutes, or until the aubergine is soft. The sauce should be like double cream and thickens as it sits so, if necessary, add a splash of water from the kettle.
  4. Add the tamarind and adjust the seasoning and sugar to taste, and serve sprinkled with chopped coriander.


  • the aubergine would be lightly shallow-fried before being added to the sauce. I have left out this step to cut down on the oil, but the crispy texture is nice. I’ll leave it up to you.
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