Ratna’s sweet and sour aubergines – one of our favourite Indian dishes

“The brinjal [aubergine] was delicious. It surprised him that, according to Jane, no one ate aubergine in England. Such a tasty vegetable and so healthy. But the English had strange ideas about food. Most of the English dishes he had eaten had seemed to him bland and overcooked.”

 -Harriet Steel, Trouble in Nuala 


This is the vegetable dish which was included in the cooking demonstration we attended at our homestay in Mysore. It went with a chicken curry and some coconut rice.

In this recipe the sweetness comes from the jaggery (it’s widely available in Indian shops in the UK, but you can substitute molasses); and the sour flavour comes from the tamarind.

We both thought (myself and my daughter) that this was one of the best dishes we’d had so far in India. It looks impressive – and it tastes impressive!


For more on jaggery, follow this link.


sweet and sour aubergine recipe
Don’t cut through the aubergines completely.


Recipe for Ratna’s sweet and sour aubergines

Serves 4


  • 250g/9 oz small aubergines (also known as ‘brinjal’ in India; and ‘egg plant’ in the States)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp hot paprika, or ground byadgi (also known sometimes as kashmiri) chilli powder, or use Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp jaggery or molasses
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tomato, cored and chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp smoked salt
  • olive oil
  • ¼ cup/60 ml red vermouth or marsala


  1. Cut the aubergines lengthwise in quarters and soak for half an hour in lightly salted water to get rid of the bitterness.
  2. Mix together the tamarind paste, salt, turmeric, tomato, and the chilli and coriander powders
  3. Add the jaggery (dilute with a little of the water in which you’re soaking the aubergines) or molasses, and taste – add more jaggery if necessary. Add the onion and mix well. Add the sweet wine. Stir again.
  4. Take the aubergines out of the water and coat with a little olive oil
  5. Coat with the spice mix in a wok. Cook gently, covered so that the vegetable doesn’t burn and the moisture remains, over a low heat for about half an hour until cooked through, and slightly sticky.


This post is dedicated to Ratna.


sweet and sour aubergine recipe
The finished dish
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