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This South Indian Baked Eggplant Curry recipe is made in the oven instead of the skillet.  Eggplant / aubergines and red lentils are baked in a fragrant spiced tomato coconut milk sauce. So good served over rice!  It’s Glutenfree, nutfree and also soyfree.

South Indian Eggplant curry served over rice

Fans of hands-off dinner recipes that require minimal effort and clean-up, you will love this baked Eggplant curry recipe! Yes, eggplants are the hero of this dish. In my opinion, they are an underappreciated veggie. When prepared right they can make for an amazing part of your meal. The best way to prepare eggplant is to roast it – the baking process reduces the bitterness and brings out its natural sweetness resulting in the complex flavor we LOVE about this South Indian-inspired eggplant curry.

It all comes together in one pan! That’s right, no standing around and stirring a simmering pot. If you like eggplants, also make sure to try my baingan bharta.

baked eggplant curry served over rice sprinkled with cilantro

This eggplant curry recipe gets a lot of flavor from curry leaves. Every time I sizzle a handful of those leaves in oil, they release a delightful crackle!  If you’re not familiar with curry leaves, they are small delicate dark green leaves and have a uniquely citrusy, nutty aroma.  For South Indian cooks, they’re as indispensable as chile peppers and a quintessential component of stir-fries and dals or stews. You’ll find them in Indian or Asian grocery stores and some big supermarkets might carry them. Curry leaves can be bought fresh and frozen for upto one year. Use directly from the freezer. Don’t have curry leaves? Substitute 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp coriander and 1 tsp lime juice for every 6 curry  leaves.

vegan aubergine curry casserole with coconut milk gravy

This saucy eggplant usually is a side. To make this hearty, I add in red lentils into the sauce. They thicken the spicy sauce as well as make the dish into a meal. For additional protein add in a can of cooked chickpeas.

You can use smaller eggplants/brinjals or larger. Eggplants reduce a lot in size, so use enough. Recipe Origin: This recipe is adapted from the concepts I picked up browsing some vankaya(brinjal) curries/sides. As with my current baking run, I also adapted it to make a baked version instead of frying or pan frying.

MORE INDIAN COMFORT FOOD

South Indian Eggplant Curry Baked Recipe

5 from 34 votes
By: Vegan Richa
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
This South Indian Baked Eggplant Curry is made in the oven instead of the skillet.  Eggplant / aubergines and red lentils are baked in a fragrant spiced tomato coconut milk sauce. So good served over rice or as soup! It's Glutenfree, nutfree and also soyfree.
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Ingredients 
 

For the eggplant:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or Indian red chili powder or use 1/2 teaspoon paprika instead for keeping it mild
  • 1 teaspoon or more garam masala or you can use sambar masala or Berbere
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large eggplant , chopped into 1-1 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch size cubes, or use small eggplants chopped into quarters
  • 1/2 red onion , thinly sliced about 3/4 cup
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger finely chopped or minced

For the sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 12 curry leaves, fresh or frozen or dried
  • 8 ounces tomato puree, use unseasoned tomato sauce or purée canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups coconut milk , or other creamy non-dairy milk of choice, or use 1 15 ounce can of coconut milk and 1 cup of other non-dairy milk or water
  • 1/4 cup split red lentils, (Masoor dal)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • cilantro and lemon juice for garnish

Instructions 

  • Bake the eggplant: To a 9x11 inch or similar sized baking dish, add the oil and add all of the spices and salt and mix well.
  • If the spices are getting too clumped up, add splashes of some water or few teaspoons of water so that the mixture is like a thin spice paste.
  • Then add eggplants, onion, garlic, and ginger and toss really well to coat. Eggplants will shrink a lot so you need a dish where they are about doubled up in layer.
  • Then bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius ) for 25-30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the tempering with mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds: Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and cook until the seeds start to pop or change color. Then add the curry leaves and immediately take off heat. Be careful while adding the curry leaves because they will pop and splash a little bit. Keep this tempering aside.
  • Remove the baking dish from the oven then add the tomato sauce, coconut milk, lentils, salt, and mix in. Add the tempering of mustard seeds and mix lightly.
  • Then return the dish to the oven. Cover with a parchment and continue to bake for 25 minutes or until the lentils are cooked to preference and the sauce has thickened.
  • If the sauce has thickened too much, you can gradually add in about 1/2 cup of warm non-dairy milk and mix in. Taste and adjust salt and flavor. Add more salt, spices if needed then mix in.
  • Remove the dish from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes. Then garnish with cilantro the lemon juice and serve with rice or flatbread or dosa, or serve with garlic bread as bowl of soup.
  • To make this into a soup, you can add in a little bit more non-dairy milk while the curry is still hot so that it gets a bit soupier and then serve with garlic bread.

Video

Notes

  • Curry leaves : There is no good substitute for curry leaves so if you can't find them, leave them out. You can Substitute 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp coriander and 1 tsp lime juice for every 6 curry leaves. It’s slightly different flavor but complements the sauce with the tang and earthy tones. 
    How to store Curry leaves: fresh Curry leaves can be frozen in an airtight container for 8-10 months. Use frozen wherever recipe calls for fresh curry leaves 
  • For keeping it mild, use 1/2 teaspoon paprika instead of cayenne 
  • if you cannot find tomato puree you can use unseasoned tomato sauce or purée canned diced tomatoes and use 
  • No oil: It’s difficult to make this oil free. You can dry toast the mustard seeds and use but the flavor payback isn’t as strong as oil toasted seeds. For the roasting process you can use broth or aquafaba
Stove top: Make the tempering in a larger skillet. Then add the spices and mix in. Add onion and eggplant(use smaller chopped) toss well and cook until eggplant is golden on some edges. Then add the rest of the ingredients, mix well, partially cover and cook until the eggplants start to break down and the lentils are cooked. Stir occasionally. 

Nutrition

Calories: 217kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Sodium: 540mg, Potassium: 667mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 496IU, Vitamin C: 71mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Did you make this recipe? Rate and comment below!

a serving of baked vegan eggplants served over rice sprinkled with cilantro
Ingredients:

  • eggplants are baked in the oven with ginger, garlic, and onions
  • before baking, the eggplants are rubbed with homemade spice paste made with a blend of coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne or Indian  red chili powder, and garam masala
  • tempering adds oomph to the gravy: mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves are fried in oil to season it, then we add all this to the gravy
  •  tomato puree adds sweetness and acidity to the gravy
  • coconut milk or other non-dairy milk is added for creaminess
  • split red lentils add body and fiber and make this more satisfying and also thicken the sauce
  • cilantro and lemon juice are my garnishes of choice

Tips:

  • People will often try to find substitutes for curry leaves, but I personally feel there is no good substitute for them so if you can’t find them, it is totally fine to leave them out in a recipe. Or Substitute 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp coriander and 1 tsp lime juice for every 6 curry leaves.
  • For keeping it mild, use 1/2 teaspoon paprika instead for keeping it mild
  • Instead of garam masala,  you can use sambar masala or Berbere
  • if you cannot find tomato puree you can use unseasoned tomato sauce or purée canned diced tomatoes

ingredients for baked eggplant curry recipe on a marble countertop

How to make Vegan Baked Eggplant Curry:

spices in a white casserole dish

To a 9×11 inch or similar sized baking dish, add the oil and add all of the spices and salt and mix well.

If the spices are getting too clumped up, add splashes of some water or a few teaspoons of water so that the mixture is like a thin spice paste.

spice paste in a white casserole dish

Then add eggplants, onion, garlic, and ginger and toss really well to coat. Eggplants will shrink a lot so you need a dish where they are about doubled up in layer.

eggplants and onion slices in a white casserole dish

then bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (205 degrees Celsius ) for 25-30 minutes.

spiced eggplant spices and onions in a white casserole dish

roasted eggplants in a white casserole dish

Meanwhile, temper the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds: Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and cook until the seeds start to pop or change color. Then add the curry leaves and immediately take off the heat. Be careful while adding the curry leaves because they will pop and splash a little bit. Keep this tempering aside.

spices being tempered in a small pan

Remove the baking dish from the oven then add the tomato sauce, coconut milk, lentils, salt, and mix in. Add the tempering and mix lightly.

coconut milk being added to white casserole dish with baked aubergines

Then return the dish to the oven. Cover with parchment paper and continue to bake for 25 minutes or until the lentils are cooked to preference and the sauce has thickened.

red lentils being sprinkled over eggplants in coconut milk in a white casserole dish

eggplant slices baking in coconut milk

If the sauce has thickened too much, you can gradually add in about 1/2 cup of warm non-dairy milk and mix in.

Taste and adjust salt and flavor. Add more salt if needed, more spices if needed then mix in.

Remove the dish from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes. Then garnish with cilantro the lemon juice and serve with rice or flatbread or dosa. Alternatively, serve with garlic bread as a bowl of soup.

To make it soupier, you can fold in a little bit more non-dairy milk while the dish is still hot so that it gets a bit soupier. Then serve immediately with garlic bread.

overhead shot of a casserole dish with vegan baked eggplant curry

I love this served with rice but if you want to cut down on carbs, cauliflower rice will work really well here.

Storage:

Store refrigerated for upto 3 days. Freeze for upto a month.

a serving of vegan eggplant casserole served over rice

 

 

About Richa

Hi, I'm Richa! I create flavorful plant based recipes that are inspired by my Indian upbringing, including many gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options.

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5 from 34 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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62 Comments

  1. Adrienne says:

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it is delicious! I doubled it using two baking dishes. I cut my eggplant in smaller cubes (maybe 1/2 or 3/4 inch cubes) and mixed all the veggies with the spice paste the night before so it got to marinate. I topped my bowl with a nice scoop of vegan butter. Thanks for another great recipe, Richa!

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      Yay! Glad you liked it!

  2. Ann says:

    I made this tonight – loved the curry sauce but the eggplant didn’t taste good. I had cut the pieces big as you advise in your recipe – the pieces kept their shape but when I bit into them, they were watery/mushy. Is that the way the eggplant is supposed to turn out in this dish?

    1. Richa says:

      Yes eggplants cook quickly and get mushy. You can coat them in cornstarch so that they crisp up in the first bake, then remove most of the eggplant and add the sauces and bake. Fold in eggplant once the sauce is boiling and remove from oven. The sauce will continue to simmer for 2-3 mins after taking out

  3. Hannah says:

    5 stars
    This is my favorite recipe. I’ve made it many times now and it always comes out incredible! I’ve started making it in the instant pot instead of the oven and it turns out great that way, too

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      yay!

      1. Hannah says:

        5 stars
        Now that I’ve made this recipe 10 or so times, I’ve noticed that consistently the lentils do not cook in the 25 minutes the recipe says it will take, even when I cover the pan in tin foil. After 25 minutes they are still quite hard. Do you have any advice for this? curious if other people are having the same experience?

        1. Richa says:

          Might be the oven isnt heating as much or the baking dish too thick. What kind of red lentils are you using? I use split red lentils. Maybe your lentils are whole and not split, or really old. You can soak them in warm water for 15 mins then drain and use. And bake longer

  4. Brooke says:

    5 stars
    This was just absolutely heavenly! I doubled the recipe, used lots of red onion, and added more tomato passata so that the coconut milk did not dull the flavour too much. It is DEVINE. One of the best vegetarian curries I have ever made, and so so simple. I loved it so much I am going to make it again this weekend!

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      yay!

  5. Lilia says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. I just removed the curry leaves because I used dry and did not add the cilantro because I don’t like it. Aside from that, very tasty, will make it again for sure.

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      yay!

  6. Miriam Attard says:

    5 stars
    So good. I bulked it out with quinoa flakes & it was really amazing.

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      Yay! 🙂

  7. Dee says:

    Absolutely love your recipes, unfortunately website is severely lacking.

    It automatically launched ads, completely unrelatedly recipes. Even now, I can’t even leave a comment without a stupid unrelated video being in the way. With absolutely no way to close ad or unrelated video ie it’s in the way.

    Would suggest next website update includes user testing ie subset of customers.

    Absolutely love your recipes, but the website is useless if it isn’t usable.

    1. Richa says:

      I’ve asked team to update the video placement and cross so that it doesn’t disappear. The cross used to be on the left and some phone screens aren’t as wide so it disappears on
      The side. It’s now in the center

  8. Joan says:

    5 stars
    This has to be one of my favorite Vegan Richa recipes – although I must say I’ve not tried a single on that disappointed. The spice combinations are spot on! Is it wrong to lick the pan. Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      so glad to hear that! thank you for making them! 🙂

  9. Monica says:

    5 stars
    So good!! Super easy to throw everything in one pan. I doubled the garlic and ginger and it was so tasty! Thank you for this amazing recipe Richa, it will definitely become one of my go-to meals

    1. Vegan Richa Support says:

      I’m so glad you enjoy the recipe!