Slow Cooked Aubergine and Lentil Curry

An aubergine and lentil curry cooked in the slow cooker for all the flavour and none of the hassle – and no bitterness.

Do you eat a lot of aubergine? It was never something I ate a lot of growing up – just the odd moussaka. When I started trying to cook it as a student I treated it pretty much like courgette – frying, grilling or roasting it fairly quickly. However, where courgette quickly turns to slime if overcooked, my aubergine remained stubbornly tough and bitter.

Over time I’ve learned that aubergine is much tougher than it looks, and prefers a longer cooking time to really bring out that sweetness, however you choose to cook it. Why I didn’t try it in the slow cooker sooner I’ll never know, but I’ll certainly be doing it again. It was melted and sweet, infused with yummy spices, and not slimy.

plate of aubergine (eggplant)
Lovely shiny aubergines (eggplant)!

Aubergine Curry

Aubergine (egg plant) is widely used in Indian cooking. It has a meaty texture and absorbs flavours readily  – all things that make it perfect for a curry. Serve this hearty aubergine and lentil curry with rice, chapatis or just bread to take your aubergines to a new level. I think it would be just as nice if you swapped the spices for garlic, stirred in some basil at the end, and served with fresh bread for a Mediterranean style feast.

In India it’s traditional to serve a vegetable curry alongside a lentil curry such as a dal and that’s how we often eat Indian food in our house, but I love this aubergine and lentil curry because the lentils are integrated into the main dish – it’s a one pot curry. I can’t claim it’s authentic Indian though – just a hearty warming meal with Indian inspiration. With no added fat, this is the perfect healthy winter warmer.

Aubergine (eggplant) Size

The aubergines here are all of a standard size, but aubergines (eggplant) can vary quite a bit, so I weighed and measured them as I made it this time. They all varied between 9-10 oz and 5-8 inches. That’s roughly 255-283g and 12-22cm.

As these are quite small I sliced them, then cut each slice into four quarters. If yours are a bit bigger than this you may want to cut each slice into more pieces so the chunks aren’t too big. That will stop the aubergine/eggplant from getting too bitter. Of course, if your aubergines are bigger, use less of them too.

aubergine on a chopping board being measured

Step By Step

chopped aubergine on a chopping board
Chop the aubergine into quarter slices – or if you have larger aubergines, into smallish chunks
slow cooker dish with aubergine, tomatoes and lentils, small dish of spices
Place the aubergine chunks, tinned tomatoes, lentils and spices in the slow cooker
mixed together auberine and lentil curry ingredients
Mix the cornflour/cornstarch into a paste and add it. Mix 600ml freshly boiled water with the stock cube and stir it in. Cook for 8 hours on low or 6 hours on medium

Original article published on 12 April 2016. Edited and photos replaced on 25 September 2017 and 22 January 2019

5 from 4 votes
Dish of aubergine and lentil curry with naan bread on the side and coriander garnish
Aubergine and Lentil Curry
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
8 hrs
Total Time
8 hrs 10 mins
 

An easy, low fat slow cooker curry.  This vegan dish cooks the aubergine to perfect sweetness.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: British/Indian
Servings: 4
Calories: 310 kcal
Author: Lizzie
Ingredients
  • 6 aubergine/ egg plant
  • 8 oz lentils
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes 400g/14 oz
  • 4 tsp coriander
  • 4 tsp turmeric
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 4 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp extra hot chilli powder
  • 1 vegetable stock cube Sufficient to make 1 litre of stock/bouillon
Instructions
  1. Cut the aubergines into quarter slices – or for big aubergines, small chunks- and place it in the slow cooker, along with the lentils.

  2. Open the tins of tomatoes and add them to the slow cooker.
  3. Mix in the spices. Boil the kettle. Mix the cornflour/cornstarch together with a little water to form a paste and stir it in.

  4. Mix the ingredients in the slow cooker thoroughly. Mix 600 ml freshly boiled water from the kettle with the stock cube and pour it in. Cook on medium for 6 hours or on low for 8 hours.



24 thoughts on “Slow Cooked Aubergine and Lentil Curry”

  • This looks delicious! Is that 6 full size eggplant? I wish they were cheaper here- that sounds so good!! Maybe I'll try it with one or two eggplant in a mini version haha
  • I do love eggplant and lentils. I happen to have some beautiful eggplant growing in my garden and need ideas to use it all, this will be one for the weekend
  • Hi, I really wanted to love this recipe but after making this I am really confused....How heavy are six aubergines meant to be? Either my slow cooker is exceptionally small (it's a standard-size Crock Pot) or my aubergines were exceptionally big, because I could barely fit four aubergines in the pot and even with just four, mixing everything up was a real challenge. I also think the seasoning might not have been enough for this amount of aubergines because it turned out a bit... bland? Maybe the aubergines in my part of the world are just huge and yours are more courgette-size? And are you really not meant to add any salt at all to the dish (I understand the lentils won't soften if you add salt in the beginning but what about after it's cooked)?Thanks in advance for the response :)
    • I'm sorry you've not had a good experience! The aubergine here do tend to be on the small side. It's a while since I've made this - I'll put it on the meal planner and see if I can weigh the aubergine, check the spice against similar recipes, and post some clarifications. Thanks so much for letting me know how you got on - it's great you liked the recipe enough to make it, and your feedback is invaluable.
      • Thank you so much for your response! I googled a little and it seems there's really a variety of sizes... and for some reason, ours tend to be almost as big as a small butternut squash. Another problem I had was that the aubergines turned out a bit bitter and apparently that tends to be a problem of older, bigger aubergines. I'll try salting them before next time to extract some liquid and bitterness, I think that should take care of it :) it is a lovely recipe otherwise!
        • Perhaps the size thing is why I never have issues with bitterness! I'll have to see if I can get hold of some big ones and do some experimenting!
        • I've just added some updates to clarify a few things! It occured to me that the bitterness may have been due to size of chunks.
  • How big are the tins of tomatoes? And is cornflour the same as corn starch in the US? Thanks
    • Hi Rebecca, thanks for your comment. I was updating the recipe anyway, so I've added some tweaks in for you. Cornstarch is indeed cornflour, and they're 400g/14oz tins of chopped tomatoes. Do let me know if you try it :)
  • Hi Lizzie, loved the recipe, thank you.Is it possible/ OK to freeze please? Apologies for dim question.Many thanks, Alan

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