Tonight's dinner: Aubergine Curry with Simple Mauritian Lentils



Aubergine Curry

Serves 10 •

Cooking time: 1 hour
Active time: 25 minutes


GF DF NF (if no nut oil) EF VEG (with vegetable stock)

With vegetable stock, this aubergine curry makes a brilliant vegetarian or vegan dinner, served with some wilted greens and quinoa or rice. The cooking procedure might seem laborious, but it’s a meditative process of adding things bit by bit. And labours of love are always worth it in the end, aren’t they?

1 tbsp salt, plus extra to season
1 kg Japanese aubergines, halved lengthways (see note)
125ml coconut, macadamia or olive oil, or ghee
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
400g red onions, thinly sliced
50g spring onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp your favourite masala curry powder (see note)
10 curry leaves (fresh or dried)
1 dried chilli
30g desiccated coconut
1 tbsp tomato purée

2-3 tsp honey, or to taste
400ml coconut milk
250ml vegetable or chicken stock
2 large handfuls fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 large fresh red chilli, thinly sliced, to garnish (optional)

Sprinkle half the salt over the aubergines and set aside to drain in a colander for 10 minutes. Pat with a clean tea towel to dry well.

Heat half the oil in a large flameproof enamelled, cast-iron casserole pot or large saucepan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Fry the aubergines for 6-7 minutes, until browned all over. Remove to a bowl and set aside. (This step is important to ensure you don’t end up with disintegrated aubergine curry mush. You’ll add them back in right at the end.)

Return the pan to the stovetop and heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Fry the mustard and fennel seeds for 2 minutes, then add the onion and spring onion, and cook until browned. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, masala, curry leaves and dried chilli, and fry for a further minute or two, until the aromas are fully released. Add the desiccated coconut, and fry for another minute.


Add the tomato purée, honey, coconut milk, stock and half the coriander.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Two minutes before serving, add the aubergines and season to taste with extra salt.

Garnish with the reserved coriander and sliced chilli (if using), and serve.

Notes: You can make your own curry masala by mixing 1 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground cardamom, ¼ tsp ground fenugreek and a pinch of ground cloves. Japanese aubergines are long, skinny and dark. If you can only get hold of the larger, fatter ones, cut them in half crossways and then each half into thirds lengthways.


Simple Mauritian Lentils

Serves 10
Soaking Time 12-24 hours
Cooking Time about 1 hour
Active Time 10 minutes



500g black or brown lentils
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
400g red onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
8 curry leaves
1 handful parsley leaves
3 thyme sprigs
about 2 litres filtered water
sea salt, to taste

You can use this easy recipe to make a gorgeous soup – just add a little curry powder and some coconut cream, and blend once cooked. But a Mauritian lunchtime feast will never be without this lentil side dish. If the curries of the day are quite spicy, the kids often have a fried egg with these lentils and rice as their lunch. Simple and always appreciated.

Cover the lentils with filtered water, stir in the lemon juice, then cover the bowl and soak overnight. (They can be soaked for up to 24 hours if you have things to do the next day, so there’s no stress.)

The next day, drain and rinse the lentils. Heat the oil in a flameproof enamelled cast-iron casserole pot over medium heat and fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is transparent. Add the lentils, curry leaves, parsley, thyme and enough water to cover the lentils. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or a little longer (depending on how long you soaked them). Check on them occasionally until they’re tender.

Season with salt and serve with basmati rice or cauliflower rice.



Extracted from Low Tox Life by Alexx Stuart (Murdoch Books, approx €17). Photography by Rob Palmer.



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