Kaliya Curry (Eggplant, Plantain, and Potato)

A traditional Sri Lankan curry from our Muslim community, featuring fried eggplant, plantain, and potato, simmered in a rich coconut milk curry.

1 large eggplant, cubed
2 plantains, cut into similar sized pieces
5-7 small potatoes, cubed
1 t. turmeric, 2 pinches of salt, dissolved into 2-3 c. water, divided into two bowls

vegetable oil for deep frying

1 large onion, sliced thin
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 T ginger, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 stalk curry leaves (about a dozen)
1 inch pandan leaf (optional)
1 T Sri Lankan roasted curry powder
1 t. cayenne (optional)
1 T jaggery or dark brown sugar
1 t. tamarind paste
1 t. salt
1/2 c. + 1 1/2 c. coconut milk

2-3 c. water (enough to cover)

1. To prevent discoloration and add a little flavor, once you cube eggplant and plantains, submerge them (separately) in bowls of water, each seasoned with 1/2 t. turmeric and pinch of salt.

2. Heat oil for deep frying in a large, deep pan. Drain eggplant (water will make it splatter when it hits the oil, and can be dangerous). When the oil is hot, working in small batches, fry eggplant until lightly browned, then remove to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat process with plantains and potatoes.

3. In a large pot, heat 1/2 c. oil (you can use the frying oil), then add sliced onion and sauté, stirring, until golden-translucent.

4. Add ginger, garlic, cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, curry leaves, pandan leaf (if using), curry powder, cayenne, jaggery, tamarind paste, salt, and 1/2 c. coconut milk.

5. Gently stir in fried ingredients; add enough water to cover, bring to a boil, cover, and turn down to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes; vegetables should be cooked through.

6. Remove lid, add remaining coconut milk, stir very gently to combine, taste and adjust seasonings; you may want more salt or a little more tamarind. Simmer 5-10 more minutes, to a thick, rich gravy. Serve hot (or room temperature) with rice; dal is a nice accompaniment to add protein and make a complete meal.

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