Dried Fish and Eggplant Curry

(Photo by Emily Barney/Flickr)

Serves 6.


250 g/8 oz salted dried fish
500 g/1 lb eggplants (aubergines)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
oil for frying
12 banana capsicums
12 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium onions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons Ceylon curry powder
400 ml/14 fl oz can coconut milk
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar


Cut dried fish into large pieces, about 5 cm (2 in) across. Slice eggplants thickly, rub each slice with turmeric and salt and set aside for 20 minutes, then blot dry with paper towels. (It is wise to wear disposable gloves when doing this, as turmeric stains the hands.)

Heat 1 cup oil in a wok and fry the dried fish. Remove to a plate and fry the capsicums on high heat until the skin blisters. Remove with a slotted spoon. Fry the garlic cloves on medium heat, just until golden. Remove. Fry the eggplant, not crowding pan and replenishing oil if necessary. When brown, remove and put with the other fried items. Finally, in about 2 tablespoons of oil, fry the onions until soft and golden. Add curry powder and fry for 1 minute.

Add coconut milk mixed with an equal amount of water and stir as it comes to the boil. Add cinnamon and the fried ingredients and allow to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup hot water, knead to dissolve the pulp, and strain. When curry is reduced and thick, stir in the tamarind pulp, vinegar and sugar. Serve with rice.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)