500g small purple aubergines or 8-10 small aubergines
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
3 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
1/2 tsp brown or black mustard seeds
8-10 curry leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
3-4 garlic cloves crushed
5cm/2.5 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
50g creamed coconut
a few coriander leaves for garnish, washed and chopped
Make to cross slits on the base of each of the aubergines and place in a bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt over them and set aside. Place the tamarind pulp in a small bowl and add about 60ml of hot water. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to press the pulp and release the seeds if any, and fibres, then strain into a nylon sieve into a bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract much juice as possible. Discard the pulp.
Heat a large saucepan or a deep wok and add a few mustard seeds to the oil. The seeds will splutter when the oil is hot enough. Add the remaining mustard seeds followed by the curry leaves and mix.
Tip in the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the cumin, coriander, chilli powder, turmeric and the remaining salt and mix. Then add then garlic and ginger with the aubergines. Pour in 200ml of just boiled water with the tamarind juice, stir, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Fold in the coconut cream and cook for a further two minutes and garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot with plain Basmati rice.