Make this dish in the summertime when eggplants (aubergines) and ripe tomatoes are in abundance. This outstanding, flavorful curry consists of slices of fried eggplant folded into a spicy tomato sauce with fennel seeds. Use a nonstick skillet to minimize the amount of oil needed for frying.

Preparation: 40 minutes | Serves: 4

  • 4 thin Japanese eggplants (aubergines), cut into ¼-inch rounds (about 4 cups) (see note)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, drained
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Water, as necessary
  • Spice mixture
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

In a large nonstick frying pan over medium to medium-high heat, heat 2 to 3 teaspoons oil. Add enough eggplant (aubergine) to cover pan in a single layer. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining eggplant, adding more oil as needed for each batch to prevent sticking.
In the same pan wiped clean, over medium-high heat, heat mustard and fennel seeds in 1 tablespoon oil until mustard seeds begin to pop. Uncover and add tomatoes, ginger, garlic, salt and spice mixture. Continue frying over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until tomatoes turn orange and pieces break down to form a soft paste, about 5 minutes.
Add reserved eggplant and stir very gently to combine with tomato mixture. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until eggplant is cooked through, adding water in small amounts if mixture becomes too dry. Taste for salt.

*Note: Regular (Italian) eggplant, cut into ¾-inch chunks may be substituted.