Coconut Aubergine Curry
Sometimes food is born out of necessity, beans on toast (items stranded in the cupboard), sometimes it’s born out of community with many mouths to feed, chilli con carne, on other occasions it’s there to seduce, rosewater scented chocolate pudding. Food is often an expression of how we feel, what we remember or it can be more visceral than that and is inspired by our senses, what we see, hear, touch or smell. In this case it was inspired by an archipelago of islands which I hope will still be around for several centuries to come, my fear is that they’ll be swallowed in nature’s warning of climate change.
Flying above the string of atolls in the Maldives, white fringed blobs of land, spread out like an ink spray interrupting the turquoise firmament and distributed over hundreds of square miles, I gazed at what explorers could only describe as paradise on earth. Touching down on the capital island of Malé my spirit leapt with the freedom which only nature has the power to unlock. I took the most memorable boat trip to our island destination, we were accompanied by shoals of flying fish and dolphins breaching the water like an advance party signalling our arrival. Days were spent wreck diving, snorkelling, strolls around the island in miniature and then sundown cricket with the Indian Ocean marking the boundary.
Appetites were knocked for six, cuts of morning caught fish, dressed in delicate coconut shavings, wrapped in fat green banana leaves, juicy fat prawn curry (similar to this one – link) soaked up with wet plump rice, ponds of coconut milk supporting root veg and chunks of white fish also made the grade. Our vista was filled with almost 3600of Indian Ocean, our food landscape featured a constant theme of coconut and this dish pays homage to these island pearls. Aubergines are cut into thick uneven chunks and pierce the surface of the calm coconut sea like solemn atolls, this coconut aubergine curry is lovely to look at, even better to taste.
- 2 aubergines, topped and tailed
- 6 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp of turmeric
- Pinch of asafoetida
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of chilli powder
- 400ml coconut milk
- Squeeze of lemon
Chop the aubergines into rough chunks, in a separate bowl drop in the asafoetida with a tablespoon of water, until it’s dissolved
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and drop in the aubergine chunks, add all the spices, including the salt and asafoetida. Cook for 3-4 minutes ensuring all the pieces are coated in spices and the mixture dries a little. Add a glug of oil to loosen it, don’t let it dry out too much. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and stir in thoroughly, cook for around 5 minutes over a low heat and lace it with the lemon juice at the last moment.
Serve this Indian aubergine curry with spiced cous cous or fluffy boiled rice.