Sri Lankan eggplant curry

I love eggplant dishes, and this Sri Lankan tamarind eggplant is no exception. I’ve eaten different versions of it at my Sri Lankan friend’s houses and on my Sri Lanka trip in 2018. I’ve savored it every time. It’s a little sweet, salty, tangy, and rich all at the same time.

This recipe will yield a proper curry you can eat with rice. If you prefer a drier version, you can cut half the water and tamarind, and omit the kithul treacle. Adapted from my friend Seiyonne’s mom’s recipe.


  • 3 large eggplants
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup or kithul treacle (Sri Lankan sweetener; can be found on Amazon)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Sri Lankan curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt over eggplant and leave to “sweat” for 30 minutes.
  3. Squeeze out excess water from eggplant, then toss in olive oil until evenly coated. Distribute among 2-3 large baking sheets.
  4. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until eggplant is nicely browned and fork-tender.
  5. Make tamarind gravy by stirring together tamarind concentrate, kithul or agave syrup, and warm water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onions and garlic. Cook for 5-6 minutes on medium low heat or until onions are slightly tender and browned.
  7. Add chili powder, mustard seeds, sprig of curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, and Sri Lankan curry powder. Cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Add coconut milk and tamarind gravy and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add salt to taste.
  9. Lower heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes at low heat. Serve with rice, hoppers, or string hoppers.

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