Nigel Slater recipe
1kg aubergines (2 v large ones)
2 tablespoons coriander seed
8 green cardamom pods
2 level teaspoons black peppercorns
3 medium onions
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
6 cloves garlic
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
10 medium-sized tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
2 rounded teaspoons ground turmeric
4 small, hot chillies
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
2 small bunches of fresh coriander
1 small bunch mint
wipe aubergines, cut off stalks, then cut into fat chunks. Tip into colander and sprinkle salt over them. Leave to drip into sink for half an hour - or longer if you can.
peel and roughly chop onions, then cook them in oil in heavy pan over moderate heat until translucent and soft.
crush cardamom pods and shake out little black seeds. Put into mortar with peppercorns and grind to coarse powder.
peel ginger and slice into thin, matchstick-like shards. Stir into onion along with sliced garlic, turmeric and spices. Peel and seed tomatoes, then add to pan.
rinse aubergines and pat dry. Grill them - without oil - on a ridged cast-iron grill pan till they are starting to soften and have dark grill lines across them. Turn them so that they cook on both sides, removing them as they are ready and replacing them with a new batch. Add them to the onions, pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then add coconut milk, chilli, a little salt, and continue cooking at a simmer for about 45 mins. The aubergines should be very soft and silky, but not actually falling apart.
lift out aubergine, tomato and some of the onions with a slotted spoon.
reduce the rest of the sauce by boiling hard for 5 mins or so. Now ladle most - but not all - of the sauce into a blender and whiz until smooth and thick.
return aubergines and sauce to the pan, then chop mint and coriander leaves and stir them in with a final seasoning of salt and black pepper.
serve with basmati rice.