Good food: Spiced Eggplant

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I’ve been exploring more of my food options locally… seeing as I’m unable to produce much quality produce in my own sandy little rental yard, I’ve been reaching out to local growers and farmers… swapping produce with other people who are growing gorgeous food of their own in their yards. Jars of freshly made yoghurt swapped for bags of baby eggplant. Home made slice swapped for a bag of tomatoes. Garlic from local soil, fresh herbs trimmed from local gardens… chilli’s from my own little bush… spices from my pantry. Every ingredient has a story of it’s own…everything comes from somewhere. We come together to share our ideas, our food, our skills.

We come together and all of a sudden none of us are alone.

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Spiced Baby Eggplant {Dairy + Gluten Free}


10-12 baby eggplants
5 large good quality tomatoes
1 red onion
Salt and pepper
1 Star of anise
2 Tsp raw sugar
1 inch of ginger
3 Tbsp masala
2 cloves of garlic

For the Masala (spice mix)

2 Tsp tumeric
2 Tsp whole corriander seed
4 Tsp whole cumin seed
4 Tsp fennel seed
3-4 dried red chilli’s
Pinch of sea salt



Start by making up your masala. This recipe should make enough masala for two meals, but it does depend a bit on how much spice you like and how many eggplants you use. To make the masala, gently roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in a hot, dry pan until they start to colour and release their fragrance. Add all ingredients of the masala mix to a mortar and pestle and pound until a fine dry powder is created… it’s important that you use a mortar and pestle to release the flavours gently… but if you want to finish it off in a high powered food processor or coffee grinder, you can.

Quarter each of the baby eggplant leaving them still joined at the top, so they have long slits down each side. Rub generous amounts of the spice mix into the inside of each of the eggplant. Grill eggplants on a hot grill plate on the stove with a splash of coconut oil and a little salt and pepper… Grill until slightly charred and soft (but not squishy and falling apart).

In a food processor blitz the tomatoes, garlic, onion and ginger into a chunky puree. Add to a hot cast iron pan with sugar, star of anise and 3 Tbsp of masala and stir. The puree should start to thicken and intensify in colour from the tomatoes. Once it’s nice and thick and heady add 1/2 a cup of water and reduce again. The sauce is meant to be nice and chunky so reduce it until it’s nice and thick and then remove from the heat and gently stir through the grilled eggplant.

Let the eggplant sit in the hot sauce for 10 minutes or so with the lid on or until you are ready to eat. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, on top of rice, flat bread, as a side or a main… it’s delicious with some cool mint yoghurt/kefir (dairy free coconut yoghurt would work well if you’re dairy free/vegan), some cucumber, some fresh red chilli and a good helping of coriander.

Spicy and delicious.

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Is there anything better than food that has been traded and swapped, food that has come from lovingly cared for backyard gardens… food that comes from communities… covered in spices that suddenly transport you back to far away lands… dusty side alleyways with bowls with nothing but the remnants of a hot curry on your knees and sweat in your hair. An old man rolling you a cigarette and pouring you steaming chai while he natters at you in a foreign language.

This dish does that for me. It brings the South West of Australia and Northern India together… as if the world was very small.

Eat local. Spice Global.

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  • February 11, 2014 - 6:33 am

    Peggy - Ok now I want spiced eggplant for breakfast. Delightful Sash. LOOOOOVE your photos. xReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 4:44 pm

      Sash - Thanks Pegs xReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 7:16 am

    Prue - Food swapping is just the best isn’t it! We planted a mountain of chilli plants this year and have an over abundance of those hot little buggers on our hands. Lucky for us there seems to be a secret lunchroom food swap at Mat’s work, along with a secret competition to see who can grow the best tomatoes.

    Prue xxReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 4:45 pm

      Sash - Sounds fun! Food swapping is the best. It’s a good conversation starter too! xReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 6:41 pm

    Emma Galloway - Beautiful Sash!!ReplyCancel

    • February 11, 2014 - 6:50 pm

      Sash - Thanks Em xReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2014 - 11:04 pm

    Josie - This looks delicious and I love the ethos behind it too. Eat local, spice global is a brilliant quote by the way 😉ReplyCancel

  • February 13, 2014 - 9:44 am

    Heather Gendron - I have never learned how someone can take pictures of food and make it look so good. I have tried and I have failed to the point where I just gave up. How do you do it? Hahah! This looks good and I will try it soon! Though I have never tried eggplant so you have convinced me to try the new!

    Love the blog and your story. (:ReplyCancel

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