Make Ahead

Tomato Eggplant Curry with Chile & Lime

January 10, 2014
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

A lovely, simple, flavorful curry full of Southeast Asian flavors.

I don't normally salt large eggplants as I find most varieties nowadays aren't too bitter. However, I find the smaller Asian varieties are very bitter and do still require that extra salting step to eliminate the bitter aftertaste. To make sure I always have the base curry ingredients on hand, I have bags of long red chiles, kaffir lime leaves, and grated ginger all ready to go in bags in my freezer. And as always, please make sure you read over the ingredients listed on the back of your coconut milk tin; it should only read coconut and water. That's it. —Emma Galloway | My Darling Lemon Thyme

Test Kitchen Notes

This was amazing. It's one of the tastiest curries I've made in a long time and I loved every bite. The instructions were well written and thought out. I had a really hard time finding serrano chile, so I used half a large jalapeño (in both sections of the recipe) and the heat was perfect. The only modification I would make to the recipe is to chop the spring onions into sections, slice the jalapeños, and dice the garlic. I followed the insructions (and didn't cut any of them) and it took a while to soften the ingredients. I loved this recipe. —Victoria Ross

What You'll Need
  • Tomato Paste
  • 500g small long Asian eggplants, sliced into 1 1/2-cm (a little more than 1/2-inch) rounds
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 4 spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 5 small tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or dark palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Curry Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 400-milliliter can coconut milk
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, stem removed, finely shredded
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Steamed jasmine rice and fresh herbs, to serve
  1. First up lay the eggplant slices out onto a tray in a single layer. Sprinkle with a little salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse off salt and pat eggplant slices dry with a clean tea towel or paper towel. To make the tomato paste, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add spring onion, garlic, ginger, and chile, and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Add chopped tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, and salt, and continue to cook for a further 6 to 8 minutes or until the tomatoes are pulpy. Remove from the heat and purée with a stick blender to a fine paste.
  2. Wash out the saucepan quickly and return to the heat over medium. Add the oil for the curry sauce. When hot add the eggplant (aubergine) slices and red onion and cook, stirring often for 8 to 10 minutes or until the eggplant is starting to soften. Add the coconut milk, prepared tomato paste, sliced chile, chopped coriander (cilantro), kaffir lime leaves, soy sauce, and lime zest and juice. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplant is meltingly tender. Add a touch of water at any stage if the sauce is thickening up too much. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt/pepper, chile, lime juice, or sugar if needed to get the right balance of flavors. Serve hot over jasmine rice, scattered with coriander leaves, Thai basil, sliced chile, and a wedge of lime to squeeze.
  3. Note: To skin tomatoes; remove the hard core at one end and make a cross slit with a sharp knife on the other round end. Submerge into boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds, remove, and run under cold water. The skins should now slip off easily.
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Former chef | Author of My Darling Lemon Thyme-Recipes from my real food kitchen | Photographer

11 Reviews

Tara August 4, 2022
Amazing recipe!! Will make again. Did not have Asian eggplant or kaffir lime leave so used Itlain eggplant and lime leaves and it came out get. Bit of heat but not too much. I can't do a lot of heat and this was still great as written.
RavensFeast September 22, 2020
We loved this recipe! I did tweak it at several turns:

*Used Italian eggplant, didn’t bother salting them.
*Omitted the red onions
*Subbed chives and shallot for the scallions
*Subbed piloncillo for coconut/palm sugar
*Used 1/2 lime juice
*Finished it w/ fish sauce and about a teaspoon garam masala

Point being, it’s very adaptable with what you have available. I loved the bright citrus and personally loved it even more w/ the rounded flavors of fish sauce and warm spices.
Foodie1 August 26, 2020
This curry sings with flavor. I made the paste in a small skillet and halved and seeded Roma tomatoes on a box grater instead of peeling and chopping tomatoes. I chopped the green onions, minced the garlic and half a Serrano chile. Did not purée. I used Wildly coconut powder, 3/4 cup powder with 3/4 cup hot water. I am at the edge of the earth in W.OK in the midst of a pandemic. This was my first experiment with Wildly and for my geography it worked well. I learned from making this recipe and it will take less time in the future.

Sarah O. July 26, 2020
Just made this for the first time and will absolutely be making it again! I left out the sugar entirely, used half of a white onion in place of the scallions, and used vegetable oil in place of the grapeseed. I wasn't sure how many tomatoes to put in because all of mine were on the larger side; I ended up using about a pound and it seemed to work well.
carolyn B. January 2, 2017
Just made this -- it is "the bomb," according to my 22-year old vegetarian son. I could not find the japanese eggplant so used graffiti eggplant (2 of them) and it was fine. I like the idea of trying squash or maybe even cauliflower instead of the eggplant, the sauce is so good I could just eat it by itself! I, too, did not have the keffir lime leaves and it was fine without them.
Ali W. September 7, 2016
I made this last night and it was great. Couldn't find keffir lime leaves, but I think the lime juice and zest added enough flavor. Really good recipes, looking forward to making it again with different vegetables!
Dana September 6, 2016
The really special thing here is the rich, spicy, homemade tomato paste, which is very flexible. I tweaked the recipe by using summer squash instead of eggplant. Very easy -- just cut up and toss into the pan, no need to pre-salt. I used brown sugar instead of coconut/dark palm sugar, and halved the amount of sugar. It would have been okay to use even less sugar. I also pan-fried some tofu and mixed that in right before serving, which made it more of a full meal, served over rice. Next time I plan to stir in kale. I'm a vegetarian always looking for filling dishes that can please my carnivore husband, and this did the trick.
LULULAND September 7, 2016
Thanks for the tips! I have some tofu that I was trying to think of what to do with it that's a little bit different from the usual.
Jenna C. August 28, 2016
This was so, so delicious. Will be making this again with other vegetables as well!
LULULAND August 24, 2016
Can you please tell me what I can use in place of kaffir lime leaves?
Jenna C. August 28, 2016
I didn't have them and the lime juice/zest seemed to add plenty of flavor without them!