Yaalpana Kaththarikaii Poriyal / Jaffna Whole Eggplant Fry

(serves 2-4, 15-30 minutes)

Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most fabulous — the base version of this whole eggplant fry uses just a few ingredients (cayenne, turmeric, salt, and hot oil) for delicious and dramatic results. It also dresses up beautifully for a fancier night out, offering grace notes of shallot, green chili, and cherry tomato.

roughly 1 lb. small eggplants (you can use Indian, Chinese, or other varieties; the key is that they be relatively small)
1 T cayenne
1 t. ground turmeric
1 t. salt

oil for deep-frying

1 large shallot, diced small
1 green chili, diced small
1 stalk curry leaves, about a dozen
about a dozen cherry tomatoes, halved

salt & lime juice to taste

1. Make eight slits down the sides of the eggplants.

2. Mix the cayenne, turmeric, and salt, and rub the spices into the slits (it’s fine if they’re detached completely at the bottom, which will make it easier to rub in spices).

3. Heat oil for deep frying (around 375F if using a thermometer) and fry the whole eggplants until they brown evenly, about 3-5 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

NOTE: You can stop the recipe here and just eat the fried eggplants as is, with rice. Delicious! Or you can add a few more steps for a more complex version.

4. To a sauté pan, add a few T of the oil from deep frying, and add diced shallot, diced chili, curry leaves, and tomatoes. Cook on medium-high, stirring, about 5 minutes, until onions are golden-translucent and tomatoes have softened.

5. Add whole fried eggplant to pan and cook an additional 5-10 minutes, stirring; taste and adjust seasonings — you may want to add 1/2 t. salt, or up to a T of lime juice at this point. Serve hot with rice, and enjoy!

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