Spiced aubergine and sweet potato with spinach

Spiced aubergine and sweet potato with spinach

A Year In My Kitchen

This is a lovely fragrant curry. The sweet potato and aubergine absorb all the beautiful complex flavours that are laid down at the start of the dish. I particularly like to eat it with a simple flat bread, but it’s also good with boiled rice. A cucumber salad with mint and coriander – dressed with lime juice, fish sauce and sesame oil – is an ideal side dish.


Quantity Ingredient
500g aubergines, trimmed
sea salt
500g sweet potatoes
2 lemongrass stalks
2 tablespoons chopped coriander root and stems
5 garlic cloves, peeled
5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled
1 large red chilli, stalk removed
6 lime leaves
1-2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 red onions, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon see method for ingredients
1 1/3 x 400ml cans coconut milk
2 tablespoons tamarind water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar or caster sugar
400g young spinach leaves, washed


  1. First prepare the aubergines. Cut them in half lengthways and then into 2.5cm cubes. Place in a colander, salt well and set aside to degorge the bitter juices for 10 minutes. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 2.5cm cubes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel off the outer layer of the lemongrass, bruise the base with the back off a knife, then cut off and discard the top half (it is dry and unyielding). Put the lemongrass in a food processor along with the coriander root and stems, garlic, ginger, chilli, lime leaves and 1 or 2 tbsp water. Blend for about a minute to a paste.
  3. Pat the aubergine cubes dry with kitchen paper. Place a large, nonstick frying pan over a medium-high heat, add 3 tbsp oil and heat until almost smoking. Fry the aubergine in small batches until golden brown on all sides, then remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  4. Place a large saucepan or cooking pot over a medium heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. When it is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring from time to time, for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the aromatic paste together with the roasted spice mix and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes to release the flavours.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk, then add the tamarind water, fish sauce and sugar. Stir well and bring to the boil, then add the sweet potato. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the browned aubergine and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  6. In a separate pan, cook the spinach quickly in batches, with just the water clinging to the leaves from washing, until just wilted. Tip into a sieve and refresh under cold running water, then squeeze dry between the palms of your hands.
  7. Just before serving, add the spinach to the curry and gently warm through. Taste and adjust the seasoning and flavourings if necessary, perhaps adding a little more sugar or fish sauce. You are looking for a balance of sweet, sour, hot and salty flavours.
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