Eggplant and Chickpea Curry – Vegan

Eggplant & Chickpea Curry - she cooks, she gardens

This dish was a bit of  a happy accident. I’ve started picking eggplants off the small bush in the front yard and so finding things to do with them has become a bit of a focus, it’s not a challenge that is at all worth complaining about, but the sense of worry and anticipation I feel each time I eye off the luscious beauties sitting on the counter in the kitchen is enough to make me a little crazy. I hate to waste food at the best of times, but wasting food that I have grown myself seems almost unforgivable. I received a great little preserving book for Christmas from one of my friends in our preserving group (Hi Kelly!) and had been eyeing off the eggplant pickle recipe since the first of my beauties started to set fruit. Though my shelves are now starting to groan under the weight of the growing number of jarred wonders, this seemed like a great way to make use of my bounty with enough leftover to share with friends and family.

So I set about creating the pickle according to the recipe (with a few little changes) but in doing so, committed the cardinal sin of home-cooking – I forgot to read the recipe from start to finish BEFORE I started cooking. I got within the final steps of pickling, the hot jars in the dishwasher ready to be filled when I realised I didn’t have the key ingredient – white wine vinegar. The horror! What to do with a big pot of pickle when the shops are closed? A moment of quick thinking yielded a gorgeously fragrant curry that I’ve been enjoying for lunch this past week. It makes enough to freeze into batches, ready for re-heating at work for a gorgeous gourmet lunch. We’ve been enjoying some unseasonably cool weather here in Adelaide the last week or so, so this dish seemed like the perfect meal to serve to warm from the inside out. I served it with a drizzle of plain yoghurt on a bed of brown rice.

Eggplant & Chickpea Curry

Salting the eggplant prior to cooking may seem like an unnecessary step but I do believe it is worth the effort, especially when dealing with heirlooms or unusual varieties. It really helps to drain out any of the bitterness that is sometimes associated with eggplant, especially in between the skin and flesh. It also helps to soften the skin to avoid any unpleasant chewiness in your curry. Many of the modern hybrid eggplant varieties have had the bitterness bred out of them but I still find that without salting the skin stays a little too firm for my liking, leaving you with that unpleasantly soft flesh and tough skin. If you’re anti-salt then I would suggest peeling your eggplants before use as a reasonable compromise.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Eggplant & Chickpea Curry
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A gorgeous, fragrant eggplant and chickpea curry that makes the most of the summer bounty.
Recipe type: Vegan
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
  • 800g eggplants - about 4-5 small-medium sized eggplants, cut into small cubes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tspn minced ginger
  • 2 red chillies, seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbspn coconut oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbspn ground cumin
  • 1 tspn fennel seeds
  • 1 tbspn ground coriander
  • ½ tspn ground turmeric
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 heaping tspn almond meal (*optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Brown rice & Plain Yogurt (or non-dairy alternative) to serve
  1. Prepare the eggplant and then pop it in a colander, set over the sink or a bowl and sprinkle with a couple of tspns of salt. Mix well with your hands to ensure even coverage. Allow to drain for 20 minutes or so.
  2. Rinse the eggplant under cool water and then pat dry with some paper towel.
  3. Combine the garlic, ginger and chillies in a mortar and pestle and work into a paste.
  4. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a deep, heavy based pan.
  5. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes until soft and fragrant.
  6. Add the garlic paste, followed by the spices and cook for another couple of minutes.
  7. Add the eggplant to the pot, stir to coat well in the spice mixture, reduce the heat by half and pop the lid on to allow the eggplant to soften - about 10 minutes.
  8. Stir and add the chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk.
  9. Allow to cook for another 20 minutes or so with the lid off until the curry starts to thicken and the oils in the coconut milk begin to separate.
  10. Add the almond meal if you'd prefer a thicker gravy.
  11. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. Serve on a bed of brown rice, drizzled with a little plain yogurt .
  • Fiona Ward

    The curry looks delicious. I also have lots of eggplant and zucchini’s and would love to make pickles with them. Do you have any recipes you are to part with?

    • Erin B

      Hey Fiona, thanks for stopping by. You could make this into pickle quite easily, at the stage where I’ve added the coconut milk and chickpeas add 125ml of white wine vinegar instead. Then cook for another 5 minutes or so and can as you normally would. I will have a go at a zucchini pickle here in a couple of weeks and post it here so stay tuned. :)

  • The Life of Clare

    Our eggplants aren’t growing yet, but I can’t wait until they do! This curry looks delicious but my favourite thing to do with eggplant are Eggplant parmi’s.

    • Erin B

      Oooh yes, I love a good eggplant parmi!

  • Sarah

    Some of the best things that come out of the kitchen are a result of a happy accident! With the rainy, humid weather at the moment, a bowl of this would be perfect here in Queensland!

    • Erin B

      Thanks Sarah, I certainly could not complain! Hope you guys are doing ok up there.

  • e / dig in hobart

    cooking with eggplant is one of my kitchen resolutions for 2013! so this is another idea for them. thanks for re-iterating about the salting – there are as many people who say “don’t” as that say “do”, and i’m never sure whether i should go to the bother.

    • Erin B

      Ooh yes, you should definitely make friends with eggplant – a really good starter recipe is an eggplant parmi as Clare suggested above. I hear you on the ‘to salt or not to salt’ debate, my advice would be to try both methods and see which you prefer.

  • Miss Piggy

    I’ve currently got a bowl of small tomatoes on my bench that I picked off my balcony plants this week. The anxiety of coming up with something to do with them all is…stressful! So many, but I don’t want them to go to waste. Your curry looks great. My eggplants haven’t fruited – lots of blossoms, but that’s it.

    • Erin B

      Hey, that is great! I recall you’ve had a rough trot with your tomatoes so it’s great to hear you’ve now got lots on your hands. I just bottled 6 litres of tomato sauce, not sure if you’ve got enough for that but if you do it is very satisfying.

  • Laura

    Ahhhhh I love happy accidents:). This looks delightful. Might just have to pick up some eggplant on my way home tonight . . .

    • Erin B

      Thanks Laura, enjoy! :)

  • Lisa

    Yummy, 5 stars- I love using coconut milk, and now I have a new wonderful recipe to try out. Thanks to you.

    • Erin B

      Thanks Lisa, I hope you like it. :)

  • Hotly Spiced

    What a beautiful looking curry, Erin, and I just love your serving bowl – it’s gorgeous and I’d like to have one just like it xx

    • Erin B

      Thanks Charlie, the bowl was a gift from a friend and is one of four – perfect for curries, just love them!

  • JJ @ 84thand3rd

    Many years ago I had a balcony garden that produced so much eggplant and I had no idea how to use it all – this sounds perfect!

    • Erin B

      Hehe, yes I am facing a similar problem at the moment as my bush is really starting to take off. There are about 5 ripening on there as I write this.

  • Leah

    Dumb question, but what do we do with the tomatoes? I’m planning on making this for a vegan freezer-cooking session and I don’t see where you used the tomatoes. Thanks!

    • Erin B

      Sorry Leah, I left that part out! You add the tomatoes with the coconut milk and chickpeas. I hope it works out ok. Cheers, Erin. :)

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  • Tom

    Another great vegan recipe for me to try – thanks for posting! Does adding 2 chillies make it hot? If I want a medium/mild curry, is one chilli enough?

    • Erin B

      No problem, Tom, I hope you like it! As to the chillies, I think it really depends on the chillies you are going to use, the longer they are – the less heat they tend to have, but yeah, one chilli would be enough.

  • justagirlfromaamchimumbai

    Being an Indian I can vouch that this curry looks amazing. I love Eggplants and love Chick peas so these 2 look like match made in heaven. Love your blog :)

  • Lizzy (Good Things)

    Erin, a beautiful recipe. How are you getting along, by the way? xox

  • Emma

    Hi Erin, I have this simmering away as I write this and the house smells divine! It’s only the second time I’ve ever cooked with eggplant, the first being a yummy mausakka. Just a quick question, do you add chickpeas and liquid or drain them first? I drained them as I wasn’t quite sure. Love your blog by the way :)

    • Erin B

      Hi Emma, thanks for stopping by. Yep, you’ve got it, drain the chickpeas and then use. Enjoy!

  • Rose

    I made this for dinner tonight, absolutely delicious!!

    • Erin B

      That’s great, Rose! Thanks so much for letting me know. :)

  • Pedro Costa

    I made this dish for a friend that came over for dinner today and it was a total success. I had never used fennel seeds or almond meal before, and it really changes everything. Thank you from Portugal.

    • Erin B

      Thanks for letting me know how you went with this, Pedro, and thanks for stopping by! I’m so pleased to hear it worked out well for you.

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  • Sandy

    delicious! I used two thai green chilli peppers instead of red, but otherwise made the recipe exactly as posted. It was quick, easy and healthy. Thanks!

    • Erin B

      Great! Thanks for letting me know.

  • Cath

    I have just made this and it is scrumptious! Thank you so much.

  • Ken

    This is one of the tastiest curries I’ve made. So delicious. I added an extra can of chickpeas just to stretch it out a bit further too.

  • Chanelle

    I know this is a silly question, but how many mls of coconut milk do you use, as I have both 400 mls and 165 mls in a can…?

    • Erin B

      Hey Chanelle, go for the 400mls. Enjoy! :)