The best eggplant and chickpea curry recipe

Get the latest from Beat


The best eggplant and chickpea curry recipe

best Thai restaurants Melbourne
Photo by Sean Bernstein

Charu is a former chef and restaurateur from Colombo, Sri Lanka who is currently seeking asylum in Australia. She is a loving mother who is passionate about cooking and family feasts. Charu prepares authentic, heart (and belly) warming dishes, just like this eggplant and chickpea curry.

This is a lovely vegetarian curry which is extremely popular in Charu’s family and often served at large gatherings. The eggplants are deep fried until wonderfully golden then added to the curry late in the cook, allowing them to hold their shape nicely. This is a well-balanced curry with distinctive sweet, sour and spicy notes thanks to the tamarind juice, sugar and chilli.

“I love cooking because I love to eat and I am excited to share my traditional Tamil food from Sri Lanka with the Australian people. You will love this curry and you will know it is a good idea to come to learn in my class how to cook my food.”
– Charu


  • 500g eggplant
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1 brown onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 tomato, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 50ml tamarind juice
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly crushed
  • 400g canned chickpeas, drained
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp white sugar, or as needed
  • Large handful of coriander, leaves and stalks, roughly chopped


  1. Remove the top of the eggplant, discarding the stalk. Half each eggplant down the middle widthways, then slice into 2cm slices. Now cut into 1cm matchsticks.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot to 180C and fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown, around 10 minutes, turning them over halfway.
  3. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Repeat with remaining eggplant until all used up.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add in the mustard seeds, fennel seeds, curry leaves and onion.
  5. Fry until golden brown, around 3 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid the spices and onion burning.
  6. When golden, tumble in the green chilli and tomatoes and stir to coat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally or until tomatoes have collapsed.
  7. Now add the turmeric, chilli powder, tamarind juice and ground coriander and stir well.
  8. Add the garlic then pour over 200ml of water and stir. Allow to rapidly simmer for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and thick.
  9. Add in the chickpeas, the coconut milk and sugar, along with the eggplant that you fried earlier.
  10. Stir everything and check for seasoning, adding extra coconut milk or sugar if too spicy of sour. Simmer for a further 5 minutes then transfer to a serving dish.
  11. Top with the fresh coriander and serve.