Eggplants (brinjals, as they are locally known) come in all shapes and sizes. The most common ones locally are the slim purple eggplants about 30 cm (1 foot) long, though the shorter ones (about 13 cm/5 in long) and the fat, black-purple ones more common in the West can be used for this dish too.
Serves 2–3 | Cooking time: 10 mins | Preparation time: 10 mins
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
- 4 tablespoons water
- 6 tablespoons oil
- 1/3 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 long purple Asian eggplants (about 300g/10oz each), or 5 small ones
- 4–6 dried red finger-length chillies, soaked until soft
- 2 small onions
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried prawn paste (belachan), dry-roasted
- Mash the tamarind pulp with the water. Strain to obtain the juice, discarding the solids.
- Grind all the Spice Paste ingredients together until fine. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Stir-fry the Spice Paste for 5–6 minutes or until fragrant, then add the tamarind juice, salt, sugar and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute more. Remove and keep warm.
- Halve the eggplants lengthwise. If using big ones, cut each half into three pieces. Cook the eggplants as desired (see Note below). Pour the Spice Paste mixture over the eggplants and serve hot.
Note: Eggplants are tastiest flash-fried in hot oil until tender, but the result is somewhat greasy. You can also pan-fry them with a little oil in a non-stick pan over high heat, turning frequently, or blanch or steam them for 2–3 minutes, until soft.
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Cover courtesy of Tuttle Publishing
Excerpted with permission from Singapore Cooking by Terry Tan & Christopher Tan (Tuttle Publishing).