Eggplant in Kaffir-Lime Scented Coconut Milk Curry – Recipe

Eggplant in a kaffir-lime scented coconut-milk curry
Eggplant in a kaffir-lime scented coconut-milk curry

Today's dish is a coconut milk-based curry, with some, but not all of the same ingredients you would find in a typical Thai green curry. I planned to serve it with two other quite spicy dishes (stay tuned, or join our new Facebook fan page for a hint), so I wanted this dish to be mild but very aromatic.

Kaffir lime is one of my favorite flavors. It has a clean, high-note citrus flavor without any actual acidity. It tastes almost like essential oil of lime. The only risk is if you use too much, you could end up with a sauce that tastes like Pledge! (A lemon scented furniture polish, for those of you who didn't grow up with it).

This dish tries to push right up to that line without going over. If you can't find kaffir lime, use 2 teaspoons of lime zest – but it won't be the same.

When making coconut-milk based sauces, it is important not to let them simmer and reduce for long, or they can develop an unpleasant gelatinous texture. There may or may not be certain members of my household who are particularly sensitive to gelatinous textures.

This time I opted not to cook the coconut milk at all, I simply stirred it in to the fried curry paste and turned off the heat. I liked the result; you don't get the green color in the sauce, but you do get very distinct, bright flavors.

Thai Eggplant in Coconut Curry
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free
Serves 4 as part of a rice-based meal

  • 4 large, long Japanese eggplants (more if smaller)
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • salt
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped (read the technique here)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger, roughly chopped
  • handful Thai basil, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 450, using convection if possible. Slice the eggplants lengthwise. Score them deeply on the diagonal, into diamonds, being careful not to cut all the way through. See the picture above. Brush with 1/4 cup of the vegetable oil and season with salt. Roast in the oven on a baking sheet until completely tender and browning, at least 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a mini food processor or a mortar and pestle, combine the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and Thai basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process or pound until you have a fairly fine paste. Mix in the lime juice.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Fry the curry paste for 1 minute. Turn off the heat and mix in the coconut milk. Let rest a few minutes, then taste and adjust salt and lime juice.
  4. When the eggplant is done, pour half of the sauce on a large, warmed serving platter. Transfer the eggplant to the platter and pour more sauce over the top. You might not need all of it. Garnish with the green onions and serve.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, February 22nd, 2010 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

15 Responses to “Eggplant in Kaffir-Lime Scented Coconut Milk Curry – Recipe”

  1. February 22, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Eggplant looks incredible… Im so trying this.

    Caviar Merchant Company

  2. Anne
    February 22, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    Hooray, a recipe that my meat-eating, low-carb husband and I can both love! We have eggplant and kaffir lime leaves in the house right now, so it’s going on the dinner list for this week.

  3. February 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Just lovely! I was thinking of making eggplant curry :)

  4. February 22, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    Great tips on working with the coconut milk. Beautiful photo, too. Thanks!

  5. February 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    yum! i love this kinds of recipes! And kaffir lime leaves…they are heaven!!!

  6. February 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    Oh baby! Another mouth-watering recipe! I cannot wait to try this one.

  7. March 14, 2010 at 5:03 am #

    This sounds too good!

  8. March 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    YUM! This recipe looks so delicious. I love eggplant, coconut and curry so I know I’ll love this recipe. Thanks for the great recipe, can’t wait to make it.

  9. October 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Did you use kaffir lime juice where it calls for lime? I was looking for recipes to use the fruit as well as the leaves, and this sounds delicious.

    • August 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      By the way, I know this comment is from ages ago, just happened to bump across it again, but I did run into fresh makrut / kaffir lime at Whole Foods once. It was amazing, I wish I had more consistent access to them.

  10. Michael Natkin
    October 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

    Hi Claudia – no, I've never seen the whole makrut (kaffir) limes for sale around here, only the dried leaves. I'm sure it would be good though, if you have access to them!

    Michael Natkin

    Find me:

    The latest from my blog, Herbivoracious: Was Your Chocolate Made with Child Slave Labor?

  11. Naurael
    August 14, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Well… It has been a while since you posted this recipe, I suppose. But since I only discovered your marvellous website a week ago, could I please be excused? :)

    Regarding this recipe: MY. Herbivoracious, indeed… I was anxious how the sauce would turn out, since I couldn’t get hold of Thai basil. And as always in times of stress and ignorance, I turned to the internet. And lo and behold, it told me that Thai basil tastes a bit like anise, also quite a bit sharp and hotter than Italian basil. So I got out my self made five-spice powder, containing star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and ground fennel seeds. And what should I say – maybe it’s not a hundred per cent your sauce, but it still tastes awesome!

    Now I’m SO looking forward to my bento tomorrow… :)

    So, in conclusion: Thanks A LOT for this recipe! It will be treasured, enjoyed and cooked many times in the future.

    Love,
    Naurael

    • August 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      Wow! I’m guessing it is fairly different, but your version sounds amazing!

  12. Deborah
    January 2, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    I konw this post is from a ways back, but… If I DID want to make this spicy, what would you suggest?

    • January 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

      I could see either using a red curry paste, or those whole small Chinese chilis. For some reason this dish speaks more to me of dried chilis than green ones.

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