It was 1976 and our mother was teaching me and my teenage sisters to cook – passing on her recipes. I was the best at making aubergine masala, so she allowed me to call it my signature dish – I’ve made it ever since. Back home in Uganda, I run a restaurant where I serve this along with other local dishes. When I’m in London helping my daughter Munira with my grandchildren, I make it for them and for the women at the Community Kitchen.
Gurmit Kaur’s Aubergine Masala
4 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large aubergines, chopped into 4cm cubes
350g new potatoes, halved
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 dried curry leaves
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
4 vine tomatoes, finely chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the rice
pinch of salt
300g basmati rice
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan on a high heat. Add the aubergines and fry, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until well browned. Tip the aubergines into a large bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan. Add the potatoes and fry, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Add the fried potatoes to the aubergines and set aside.
Heat a large pan on a medium-high heat, add the cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds and toast until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Then add the remaining oil and, when it is hot, add the onion and curry leaves and fry for 10 minutes until soft and golden.
Add the tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic paste, ginger paste, turmeric and tomatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juice has evaporated and the mixture is starting to dry out in the pan.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Put the water and salt in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the rice, reduce the heat slightly, cover and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, keeping the lid firmly on, and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add the fried aubergines and potatoes to the curry pan, along with the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add half the chopped coriander and stir through.
Remove the lid from the rice and fluff up with a fork. Serve alongside the curry, sprinkled with the remaining coriander.
Extracted from Together: Our Community Cookbook (Ebury Press, approx €11). Photography by Jenny Zarins.