I made this as part of a vegan Indian feast for my brother who has an insatiable appetite and a shit recipe repertoire. This results in some gigantic mounds of instant mash flavoured with various dehydrated soup sachets or if you’re lucky, gravy granules. The fact that he was sat tucking into something I’d rather grout tiles with didn’t sit right with me so I took over his kitchen one day to show him how easy and delicious actual cooking can be. This recipe was by far both of our favourites and if you try it, I’m sure it will be yours too.
Baby aubergines are stuffed with a coconut and peanut spice mix and simmered slowly in a velvety sauce in a pan until meltingly soft. It is worth making the effort to seek out baby aubergines from an Indian grocers as they take less time to cook and you get a good ratio of filling to aubergine.
10-12 baby aubergines
60g desiccated or freshly grated coconut
120g roasted unsalted peanuts
40g fresh coriander
8 cloves garlic
1 green chili
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and ground
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
½ – 1 carton passata
Cut each aubergine in half lengthways, but don’t cut through the stem. Roll each one over and cut lengthways again, still keeping the stem intact.
Put a large lidded frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, toast the coconut and peanuts for 2-3 minutes, until the coconut is starting to brown. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Put the coriander, garlic, green chilli, tomato puree, coriander, turmeric and salt into a food processor, along with the cooled peanuts and coconut. Pulse until coarsely ground to a grainy paste. Add a little peanut butter to help it bind if you need but not too much.
Open each aubergine out like a flower and fill with the coconut mixture, using your hands. Roll the aubergine over, open and stuff again then press closed. Save any leftover stuffing to add it to the pan later when you cook the aubergines.
Next, put the oil into the frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the onion and fry until golden and soft. Add the remaining filling and ½ a carton of passata. Stir to combine and allow the sauce to bubble for a few minutes. Add the aubergines and a splash of water, turn the heat up high and cook for a couple of minutes, then put the lid on and turn the heat down. Cook for 10 minutes, then gently turn the aubergines and add a splash of water if they’re looking dry. Cook for a further 20 minutes, or until nice and tender. Serve with cucumber and mint raita, or with a salad, some yogurt and chapattis.
Vibrant and flavourful and full of healthy ingredients, this dish will take you to a warm and sunny place. Once you have the ingredients in order, it’s surprisingly quick. The flavours that set this dish apart are kefir lime leaves and fresh turmeric root, blended right into the curry paste. I really recommend tracking down these ingredients from an Asian supermarket as the flavours are so fresh and full. Once you have the flavourful base made, you can use whatever fish you like. The Balinese commonly use swordfish but I used cod loin with fantastic results.
For the paste:
2 tablespoons thinly sliced ginger (skin on)
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric – thinly sliced – skin on ( or sub 2 teaspoons ground)
2 x 5 inch sticks lemongrass, thinly sliced into disks
3 garlic cloves
1 green chilli (this will be mild)
5 kefir lime leaves
For the curry:
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups water
8-10 ounces baby potatoes, cut in half
1 can coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 lime- juice
sambal oelek, or chili paste or chili flakes for additional heat
10 -12 ounces white fish – (I used cod loin. You could use tilapia, halibut, sword fish)
1 cup peas, sugarsnap peas, green beans, pak choy ( veggies that can cook in 1-2 minutes)
Garnish with lime wedge, crispy shallots, fresh mint, basil, spring onions and/or fresh coriander
Serve over Thai jasmine rice (it’s nice to toss a couple of kefir lime leaves in with the cooking rice for a beautiful aroma)
Set the rice to cook.
Place the thinly sliced ginger, lemongrass, shallot and turmeric in the food processor. Add the jalapeño, garlic, and lime leaves. Pulse until it becomes a paste, scraping down sides if necessary.
Heat coconut oil in a large skillet, over medium high heat. When hot, add fragrant paste and stir constantly until it browns lightly, about 3-4 minutes. Add 2 cups water, give a stir, bring to a boil. Add potatoes, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
Remove the lid, and reduce the liquid just a little, letting it simmer uncovered for a few minutes. Add coconut milk, salt, fish sauce and the juice from one small lime. Taste. Remember this will go over the rice, so the flavours will mellow. Add chili paste or flakes for more heat.
Place the fish into the coconut sauce and simmer gently for 5 more minutes. Toss in the spring peas, snap peas or green beans and cook for just a minute or two, keeping them vibrant and snappy.
Serve over rice with a lime wedge, crispy shallots, fresh mint, basil, coriander and/or spring onions.