This Indian aubergine curry, brinjal bhaji, is a vegan curry that is packed with flavour. Oven roasted aubergine / eggplant is mixed with a spicy tomato sauce and cooked together until soft and tender. This simple but delicious dinner can easily be made ahead.
Similar to my mushroom bhaji, this dry curry is made with simple, wholesome ingredients and is a flavour packed vegetarian curry that meat eaters enjoy too.
Aubergine curry, also known as eggplant curry, brinjal curry or brinjal bhaji, is a popular Indian vegetarian curry. Chunks of soft roasted aubergine are combined with a flavourful tomato curry sauce to create a curry that suits those on a vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diet.
Why we love this recipe
- It is a vegan and gluten free curry made with simple ingredients.
- This dry curry requires minimal preparation.
- This curry is perfect for meal prep, as the flavours develop over time.
- This curry is made without coconut milk. Whilst I love coconut in curries like this cauliflower and chickpea curry, sometimes it’s nice to have a tomato based curry.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for ingredient quantities.
- Aubergine – UK / Ireland – Eggplant if you are in Australia, NZ, US and Canada, or Brinjal in the Indian subcontinent, South Africa and Singapore.
- Vegetable oil – or another neutral oil like canola oil or sunflower oil.
- Mustard seeds – yellow mustard seeds.
- Cumin seeds – or use ground cumin and add with the ground turmeric later on in the cooking.
- Garlic – fresh or from a jar.
- Ginger – fresh or from a jar.
- Green chillies – or use red chillies. Use thin chillies, not birds eye chillies or scotch bonnet – they will be far too hot!
- Brown onion – yellow onion.
- Tomatoes – 1-2 medium fresh tomatoes or ½ a 400g (14oz) tin of plum or chopped tomatoes
- Turmeric – ground turmeric adds not only colour but an earthy flavour to the curry.
- Garam masala – this Indian spice blend is often used at the end of cooking to season the dish.
How to make this Indian aubergine curry from scratch
Please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full recipe.
- Chop the aubergine / eggplant into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl of cold water mixed with a large pinch of salt, making sure the water covers the aubergine / eggplant, placing a plate over the top. Leave for 30 minutes.
- Drain the aubergine / eggplant and pat dry with paper towel.
- Place the aubergine on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender.
- Heat the other 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the seeds smell fragrant and start to pop, then add the crushed garlic, grated ginger, whole chillies, chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir through the ground turmeric and chilli powder then add the tomatoes.
- Simmer gently for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and the sauce is thick.
- Add the roasted aubergine / eggplant and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water if it looks too dry – it is a dry curry, which means it shouldn’t have too much sauce, but if it looks as though it is starting to catch before it is cooked, add a little more water.
- Add the garam masala and check for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed.
Soaking the aubergine in salted water should remove any bitterness, but I find it is always a good idea to test the roasted aubergine before adding to the curry sauce. If it tastes bitter you can sprinkle it with a little salt and leave for 30 minutes to cause the solanine (the compound that can make aubergine taste bitter) to leach out, then pat off with a damp cloth or paper towel.
If the skin of your aubergine is shiny and smooth, then leave the skin on. However, if your aubergine is older and the skin is dull or shrivelled, then carefully remove the skin with a sharp knife or peeler, as the skin can taste bitter. (If the skin looks like this check the aubergine as it could be bad.)
Choose aubergine which feel firm and heavy, and are free from blemishes.
Yes! In fact this curry improves over time. You can make it up to 3 days ahead and store in the fridge then reheat gently until piping hot.
My recipe tips
- This is a reasonably spicy curry – to make it milder you can use 1 green chilli instead of 2, or leave the fresh chilli out completely.
- Soaking the aubergine in salted water – not only helps prevent the aubergines from tasting butter but also helps reduce the amount of oil needed.
Over fluffy basmati rice or brown rice.
A spoonful of your favourite chutney or fresh coriander chutney on the side.
Meal prep – You can roast the aubergine a day or two ahead (I like to do this is the oven is on for something else to save energy), then add to the tomato curry sauce and heat through. This also means you can have dinner on the table in under 20 minutes.
Fridge – This brinjal curry can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, in fact the flavours intensify if the curry is left overnight.
Freeze – you can freeze this aubergine curry for up to 3 months. Cool completely then freeze. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat until piping hot throughout. You may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water when reheating, especially if you heat it in a pan rather than a microwave.
Ideas for leftovers
- If you have leftover aubergine / eggplant, this Lebanese Moussaka is another easy vegan dish, and it can be served warm or cold.
- Ideas for leftover curry:
- Place a spoonful or two inbetween 2 flour tortillas, roti or chapati and cook like a quesadilla.
- Spoon on to a naan bread and place under the grill to make a spicy naan pizza,, or spread on top of homemade pizza dough and bake.
Why not try…
You may also like these other easy vegan curries:
Brinjal Bhaji (Aubergine Curry)
- 1 baking sheet / tray
- 1 large saucepan or frying pan/
- 500g (18 oz) aubergine / eggplant – approx 2 medium sized.
- Pinch Salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
- 2 green chillies, sliced lengthways
- 1 brown onion, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 100g (3½ oz) tomatoes (approx 1-2) or ½ 400g (14oz) tin tomatoes
- 1½ teaspoons garam masala
- Chop the aubergine / eggplant into 2.5 cm (1 inch) cubes.
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and add a generous pinch of salt. Place the aubergine / eggplant in the water, making sure it is covered by the water (placing a plate over the top helps keep it submerged). Leave for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan / 200˚C / 356˚C convection / 392˚F.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Drain the aubergine / eggplant and pat dry with paper towel.
- Place the aubergine on the lined baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender.
- Heat the other 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan or frying pan and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the seeds smell fragrant and start to pop, then add the crushed garlic, grated ginger, whole chillies, chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes.
- Stir through the ground turmeric and chilli powder then add the tomatoes.
- Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
- Add the roasted aubergine / eggplant and continue to cook gently for another 5 minutes, adding 1-2 tablespoons of water if it looks too dry – it is supposed to be a dry curry, but shouldn't be sticking to the pan. If this happens add a splash or water.
- Stir through the garam masala and check for seasoning, adding a little more salt if needed.
- Serve with rice, naan and or chapati.
- Store in the fridge or cool completely and freeze.