Recipe: Aubergine Pahi
I have adapted this recipe from the exquisitely tempting cookbook Plenty More by Yottam Ottolenghi. His recipes tend towards international plant based dishes, so this is always a good start, but may require some adjustments to qualify as really positive nutrition. This recipe for aubergine pahi called for frying of the vegetables in nearly half a litre of oil, so I have swapped this for targine style oven baking. Oh my goodness I'm excited just thinking about it!
Pahi is a Sri Lankan curry dish. Sri Lankan curries tend to be more subtle and delicate than their indian curry cousins and often use coconut over ghee so tend naturally be vegan - or plant based.
I cooked everything in the same large heavy steel casserole pot which could transition from the cooktop to the oven. If you need to use a frying pan and then an actual casserole dish then go ahead, of course.
Don't freak out at the list of ingredients - most of them are spices. If you don't have any fresh ginger then stick with powdered. This turned out really tasty and spicy but adjust to your own tastes as you see fit. I am assuming you have entered a kitchen before in your life and don't tend to over explain! Most cooking (not baking) is pretty forgiving so you choose if you want to omit a certain spice or chop your veggies in strips or cubes. Just keeps pieces small enough to stir into the spices etc.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cm knob of fresh ginger (or powdered)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon chillie flakes
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon tumeric (or knob of fresh)
1 large aubergine (or 2 small), diced
1 large red capsicum, deseeded and sliced
1/4 cup water (another)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
In a large heavy-based pot which is also oven-proof (including the lid) or alternatively a frying pan (then later transfer to a casserole dish) cook the onion and oil on a medium-low heat until the onion is translucent.
Turn on your oven to pre-heat to 200'C. As the onion cooks slice your aubergine and capsicum. In a small bowl or cup mix together all the spices and the garlic. Ginger and garlic should be chopped finely.
Add spices to the cooking onion and coat the onion. Start to stir and coat onion. Add the first 1/4 cup water. This is in place of more oil and works to coat the onion beautifully. As the water starts to evaporate off add the chopped vegetables. If using a frying pan first transfer hot mixture into the ovenproof casserole dish. Add the final liquid ingredients and toss everything until well coated. (see photo immediately above)
Place the dish WITH THE LID ON into the oven and bake for about 1 hour. At halfway carefully remove the dish and give it a jolly good stir up. You will see that is is already starting to soften and sweat out it's own gravy-like sauce. Return to the oven for about another 1/2 hour, with the lid on to trap all those delicious juices!