This mildly spiced Dhal and Eggplant Curry is a great accompaniment to Indian flat breads and rice. Plus it is nutritious and very delicious.
Dhal curry is the bedrock of Indian curries. It is a nutritious curry made up of mainly dhal/dal (lentils), some vegetables, and spices. This curry is relatively mild and is delicious eaten with roti (Indian flat bread) or rice. It is a healthy source of protein and dietary fiber.
Adding Vegetables to a Basic Dhal Curry
Dhal curry is Ro-Jiro’s favorite curry and so I cook it every now and then. I have a tried and tested basic version which I add vegetables to (apart from the peppers and tomatoes) depending on what I have on hand. My favorite main vegetable to add is eggplant. Other vegetables to consider are winter melons, carrots, and even potatoes.
I prefer to use the slim and long Chinese eggplants because the flesh is tender and they cook relatively fast. I like to peel the skin of the eggplants so that they can kind of melt into the curry to keep with the creamy texture of the dhal (lentils).
Tempering with Butter Instead of Ghee
Tadka is roasting whole spices in oil or ghee to release their essential oils and thus enhance their flavors. For this purpose, I used butter in place of ghee (clarified butter) because ghee is not something I have consistently in my pantry. So far, this has worked out well for me. Please use ghee if you prefer and have it on hand.
Tools Used in Making This Dhal and Eggplant Curry
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Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 2-3/4-Quart Soup Pot, Flame
Pyrex Prepware 1-Cup Measuring Cup
Dhal and Eggplant Curry
- 1 cup chana dhal (rinsed and drained) (200g)
- 1 inch ginger (julienned) (30g)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 dried chilies (broken into pieces and softened in warm water)
- 1 sprig curry leaves (stem removed)
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 cups water (480ml)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp butter (28g)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 2 jalapeno peppers (seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces)
- 2 red chilies (seeded and cut into ½ inch pieces)
- 2 tomatoes (cubed)
- 1 Asian eggplant (peeled and cut into 2 inch strips)
- Place dhal in a medium sized pot with ginger, garlic, dried chilies, curry leaves, ground turmeric, and water. Bring to a boil. Add salt, reduce heat, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes or until dhal is soft.
- Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, pulse several times to desired consistency.
- In a fry pan, melt butter. Add mustard seeds and cumin. When mustard seeds pop (crackle), add onion. Fry until onion is slightly brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add jalapeno peppers, red chilies, tomatoes, and eggplant. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place pot with dhal back onto the stove. Transfer fried ingredients to the pot with dhal. If dhal is too thick, add ¼ to ½ cup (60ml to 120ml) water. Cover and continue to cook on medium low for another 5 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Turn off stove.
- Serve warm with roti (flat breads) or rice.
I usually serve this creamy lentil curry with either store bought or homemade Roti Canai (roti pratha) but it is equally delicious served with rice.
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