Long Eggplant Curry

I love eggplants in any form. It is the most versatile vegetable that I have come across. There are tens of varieties of eggplants; and hundreds of recipes. I have not even begun to scratch the surface of the different dishes using eggplants. But I love all the ones that I have tried.
This recipe is a traditional one from Udipi, a region of the South Indian state of Karnataka. I have avoided this recipe as it looked very simple – and I was convinced that it could not be very tasty. How wrong can I be? I, after years of procrastination, decided to try it out earlier this week. It was more of a stoic resignment rather than any real excitement about the dish. So, imagine my surprise (and delight) when I put a spoonful in my mouth. The dish was really superb – probably the best eggplant dish that I have ever had. And that’s saying something since I have prepared tens of eggplant dishes! This dish uses the long, elongated variety of eggplants – both green and purple work equally well. I am sure that the other varieties will also work, though I have never tried them.

3 long eggplants
1 medium sized onion, cut into 1″ long pieces
1 tomato, chopped into large chunks
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder (dhania powder, kothamalli podi)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1/2 tsp split black lentils (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
1 sprig curry leaves
Unrefined salt to taste
Wash and vertically quarter the eggplants
Then cut them into 2″ pieces
Place in water to avoid discoloration
Set aside
Heat a wok and add the mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the split black lentils and curry leaves
Roast till the lentils turn golden in colour
Add the onion
Continue to sauté till the onion turns translucent
Add the tomato and turmeric powder
Sauté for a couple of minutes
Add the eggplant, draining the water completely
Mix well
Cover and cook on low flame for about 4-5 minutes
Sprinkle a little water, if necessary
Add salt, red chili powder and coriander powder
Mix well and cook till the eggplant is really soft
Remove from flame and serve hot with steamed red/brown/millet rice or Indian flat breads

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