Sri Lankan Eggplant with Black Garlic (Wambatu Moju)

With thanks to Kalpana, the original spice girl from Mixed Roots for this recipe!

This classic Sri Lankan dish is sweet and savoury, surprisingly easy to make, and even easier to enjoy. Once you have the ingredients lined up it doesn't take long to prepare and it is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Ingredients

Eggplants - 2 medium sized / cut into 1 cm sticks*
Onion - 1 small / sliced fine
Whole red, dried chilies - 2
(or use fresh chillies - deseed if you want the flavour but can’t handle the heat)
Whole Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - about 20 dried leaves
Crushed ginger - 1 tbsp
Black Garlic Puree - 1 tbsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Brown sugar - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Nigella seeds - 1 tsp

Oil - 1/2 cup (don’t freak about this - use as much as needed; you may not need it all!!)

*Cut off the tops and bottoms and then cut the eggplant in half across the width, before starting to cut into strips. This ensures that you get similar sized pieces that cook evenly.

Method

  1. Bring about 1/4 of your oil to medium / hot heat in a heavy bottom pan.
  2. Add 1/3 of the sliced eggplant at a time, and cook till browned. Stir occasionally so that while the eggplant browns, it doesn’t burn. (Add more oil as needed.)
  3. Finish cooking all the eggplant and set aside.
  4. Use the same pan to finish cooking.
  5. Heat the remainder of the oil and add the mustard seeds, snapped in half dried chilies and the curry leaves. Be careful of the spluttering mustard seeds. Turn the heat down to a medium / low to prevent burning and extra spluttering.
  6. Add the sliced onions and stir through the mustard seeds.
  7. When the onions are translucent, add the sugar and crushed ginger and stir well. Be careful the ginger doesn’t burn.
  8. When the onions look caramelised, add the turmeric and coriander powder. Stir till well combined.
  9. Add the vinegar and stir it all up.
  10. The salt goes in now, followed by the nigella seeds and the Black Garlic Puree.
  11. Mix well.
  12. Add the cooked eggplant and ensure that all pieces are well coated with the caramelised onion and spice mix.

Serve hot as a vegetarian side or topped onto flat bread. Also delicious cold with crackers, a sharp blue cheese, or some salty feta.

This keeps well in the fridge for up to three weeks. Just store in a jar with a lid.