Spiced Aubergine and Tamarind Rice Recipe

(38 ratings)

Spiced aubergine and tamarind rice

If you like aubergine recipes then you're going to love this spiced aubergine and tamarind rice. Its flavours are complex but mellow with a serious savoury hit. The perfect meal!


ANJUM’S INDIAN VEGETARIAN FEAST by ANJUM ANAND, published by Quadrille (£19.99, hardback) Photos ©EMMA LEE


For the rice

  • 350g basmati rice
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10–12 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 large-ish onion, sliced
  • 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, choppedsalt, to taste
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½–1 tsp chilli powder
  • 36 long Japanese aubergines, stalks cut off, cut into 2–3 pieces (depending on length)
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste, dissolved in 4 tbsp of boiling water
  • 2 handfuls of chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 handfuls of fresh grated coconut (optional)

For the spice blend

  • 2 tbsp Bengal gram (chana dal), well washed
  • 1 tbsp skinned and split black gram (urad dal), well washed
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 7cm cinnamon stick
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2/3 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 12 black peppercorns


  1. Wash the rice well in several changes of water and leave to soak in enough water to cover well.

  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and, once the popping dies down, add the curry leaves and the onion; cook until the onion starts to colour on the edges. Add the garlic and cook over a gentle flame for 40 seconds or until the garlic starts to colour. Add the tomato, salt, turmeric and chilli powder with a splash of water and cook over a medium-high flame, stirring often, for four to five minutes.

  3. Drain the rice, then add it and the aubergines to the pan and give them a good stir in the spices. Add 375ml of water, bring to the boil, then cover and cook over a really low flame until the rice has cooked through, around eight to 10 minutes.

  4. As the rice cooks, roast your spices. Heat a frying pan (I use a small cast-iron pancake pan), add the Bengal gram and cook, stirring often, until the lentils turn a lovely golden brown; pour into a spice grinder or mortar. Add the smaller lentils to the pan and repeat until these have gently browned; add to the other lentils. Add the remaining spices to he pan and roast, shaking, until the cumin and coriander have darkened and become aromatic. Add to the lentils and grind to a fine powder.

  5. Once the rice has cooked, uncover and add the spice powder and tamarind. Stir well with a fork, adjusting the seasoning as you do. Then cover and leave to steam for a few minutes. Stir in the coriander and sprinkle over the coconut, if using.