There’s nothing more satisfying than creating a vegetarian version of a meat based dish. Especially when it tastes as good as, or even better than, when meat is involved. This classic rogan josh curry is a great example.
Having been raised a ‘Yorkshire las’ in the UK it’s perhaps not surprising that my favourite childhood feast was a Sunday roast with Yorkshire Puddings and other trimmings. But coming in a close second, even from an early age, was a good curry with rice and naan and poddadoms.
I’m far from the only Brit who has a soft spot for Indian curries – in fact the Brits love curry so much that their favourite curry, chicken tikka masala, has been named a ‘national dish’. Until turning vegetarian my go-to Brit-Indian curry wasn’t chicken tikka masala – instead it was lamb rogan josh. It’s a dish with origins in Kashmir and that’s packed with spices and dried Kashmiri chillies.Although traditionally made with lamb or goat meat a rogan josh does, as I’ve discovered, taste equally great as a vegetarian curry with eggplant/aubergine. Eggplant generally makes a great vegetarian substitute for chunks of meat, especially in stews or curries – and you can try it for yourself with this recipe.
Eggplant/Aubergine Rogan Josh
This recipe follows the Lamb Rogan Josh recipe in Rick Stein’s India cookbook – my favourite Indian cookbook. Other than changing the lamb for eggplant I only made a few other tweaks to Rick’s recipe – like adding extra yoghurt instead of double cream and using coconut oil in place of ghee. I also used standard chillies and chilli powder – as I didn’t have Kashmiri chilli versions – but I’m sure the latter would make the end result more authentic.Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 large eggplants (800g – 1kg) chopped into bitsize chunks
- 40g coconut oil (or ghee)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely crushed
- 3cm ginger, finely grated
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 200ml natural yoghurt
- 1 tsp salt
- Handful of chopped coriander leaves
- 5cm cinnamon stick
- 3 dried chillies torn into pieces – ideally Kashmiri chillies
- 6 green cardmom pods, lightly bruised
- 4 cloves
- 1 tbsp each ground coriander and cumin
- 2 tsp each turmeric and garam masala
- 1/4 tsp ground mace
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, plus 1/4 to finish
- Heat the oil in a large pan and once hot add the whole spices and cook for 1 minute.
- Then add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
- Add the remaining spices and cook for an extra 30 seconds (reserve 1 tsp garam masala).
- Mix through the tomato puree and then the salt and a cup or so of water.
- Simmer for 10-15 mins, then add the eggplant and simmer for 30 mins or until it’s is soft but not mushy.
- To finish stir in the yoghurt, remaining 1tsp garam masala and 1/4tsp fennel plus the coriander leaves.