Malabar-Style Eggplant Masala For A Tasty Dinner Dish
Image Credit: Archana's Kitchen

Malabar cuisine across the coast in Kerala is known for its spice-rich robustness, thanks to most exports happening off of the coast. A blend of cross-cultural culinary influences, the cuisine boasts of meat dishes unlike no other, found across the state. The cuisine celebrates seafood, duck and vegetables with equal aplomb and has grown a fan-following over the past few years. Dishes like the pathiri (rice dough stuffed with fish, sweet coconut filling or meat), beef kurumilakitathu (beef pepper fry) and variations of roast duck are the relatively well-known dishes that hail from the region.

This eggplant masala fry, a vegetarian offering is a delicious curry replete with coconut oil, spices and a healthy dose of aromatics. Essentially considered to be a substitute for fish or meat, this curry is tangy, spicy and coconutty at the same time. Traditionally cooked in clay pots and loaded with curry leaves and baby shallots, this could easily be classified as one of the quintessential vegetarian representation of the cuisine. While this curry is perfect to eat topped on a bowl of rice, you could also pair this spicy, flavoursome curry with dosas, idlis and parathas while packing a lunch box.


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  • 250 grams baby brinjals
  • 3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 12-15 baby shallots, roughly chopped
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 red chili
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated coconut
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste

Image Credits: Salt & Tamarind


  • Wash and dice the eggplants into fours or eighths, depending on how big they are. Throw them into a bowl of water until ready to cook with, in order to avoid discolouration.
  • Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan and temper with mustard seeds, red chilli and curry leaves. As they begin to splutter, add the smashed garlic cloves and shallots. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until the shallots are translucent before adding in the grated coconut.
  • Add the turmeric and chilli powder, mix well. Add the diced eggplant pieces and coat with the spices and aromatics. Season with salt and add a quarter cup of water. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring at regular intervals, to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle the green chillies and garam masala powder when the eggplant has mostly cooked through. Allow the cooked eggplant to come down to room temperature so it soaks up all the flavours, and serve with any carbohydrate of your choice.