Eggplant Green Curry

One of my favorite dishes on the planet is a green curry made with eggplant. But you really need to know what you are doing to make it, and I don’t. Which is why we are turning to guest contributor Garrett McCord for this recipe. This is as good as any I’ve had a restaurant. It does call for special ingredients which are available at most Asian markets. ~Elise

When I was learning to cook in college a Thai friend’s mother told me that there are two particular tricks you need to be aware of to craft a truly outstanding curry. The first is that if you’re using eggplant you have to blister and sear it in order to enhance its unique taste. The second is that you have to lightly fry your curry paste in order to reveal its true potential. Only then will you have a curry worth eating.

Utilizing these rules this basic green curry is as simple as they come, and that will easily match or beat any green curry you’ve had in a restaurant. While I love the flavor of eggplant in this dish you could just as easily use chicken or shrimp. Furthermore, I highly encourage you to use kaffir lime leaves if you can find them as they add a certain floral-citrusy flavor that can’t be substituted. You can do this recipe without them, and though it will lack a truly authentic flavor it will still be completely yum-worthy.

Eggplant Green Curry Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

There are a lot of special ingredients in this curry. We've provided links to Amazon for some of the harder-to-find items, and most can be found at an Asian market if there is one near you. Also most of these ingredients can usually be found at Whole Foods.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 2 Japanese eggplants, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded, sliced into sticks
  • 1 can of bamboo shoots
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, cut into three pieces and bruised
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Thai Basil or Sweet Basil leaves
  • 1-3 Thai chilies, depending on your heat preference
  • Lime for garnish (optional)

Method

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1 Place a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a wok or deep pan over high heat. Add eggplant and stir-fry until skin becomes lightly brown and blistered, and the eggplant insides begin to soften and get a slight sear, about 3 to 4 minutes. The eggplant will absorb the oil, if some of the eggplant pieces don't get any add a little more oil. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.

2 Place another tablespoon of vegetable oil in the wok heat over medium heat. Add the curry paste - be careful, as it will cause the oil to spit - and sauté over medium heat until fragrant, about 20 to 30 seconds. Add half of the coconut milk and mix, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

3 Add the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, brown sugar, and remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add the bamboo shoots, cooked eggplant, and bell pepper. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until softened a bit. Stir in basil and chilies and remove from heat. Serve over rice with lime wedges on the side.

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23 Comments

  1. noodle fever

    Searing the eggplant and frying the paste are great tips, but I know from experience that store-bought paste will not rival the results of the best Thai restaurants in San Francisco and L.A. (Sadly, it is definitely true that many many other Thai restaurants in the U.S. do rely on the pre-made pastes).

    Particularly with green curry, which gets its characteristic zing from fresh herbs, I would really encourage people to take the extra 10-15 minutes to make the paste from scratch. It’s shockingly easy!

    Love the recipes on this site, and have made many of them with great success!

    A lot of Thai families I have met do buy curry pastes these days. However, you’re right, fresh is best. However, a store bought curry paste can be doctored by running it through a food processor with some fresh herbs. ~Garrett

  2. Tabitha (From Single to Married)b

    I so wish I could cook curry -my husband isn’t a big fan. But this recipe looks fantastic!

    Cook it for yourself! Just means leftovers for you! ~Garrett

  3. Alanna

    Wow. I’m trying to imagine one to three Thai chilis on top of that much green curry paste, yikes, hot, right?!

    I remade my own version of a similar eggplant curry just last week. Even with no Thai chilis and just a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of green curry paste, there was plenty of heat.

  4. Elise

    Hi Alanna,

    This curry was wonderfully mild. Not hot at all, even with the chiles. Could be our green curry paste was more mild than yours.

  5. Erin M.

    Yum! This looks like a great dish for me to try and cook- I am an amateur home cook and would love to have a better knowledge of Asian cooking (Loved your guest blogs by steamykitchen!). Just one question – how do I bruise the lemongrass?

    Just smash it a bit with the blunt side of your knife a few times. ~Garrett

  6. Sharkey

    Looks great. One quick question, I managed to find dried kaffir leaves, can these be used, or should I try to find fresh?

    Feel free to use dried. ~Garrett

  7. Cathy

    I tried this right away and found it to be incredibly delicious! There is a mild, heat from the spices and the creaminess of the coconut milk that is divine. I also love the fresh lime and basil. I put this curry over some jasmine rice and served it with some tilapia that I used chilies, garlic, lime, and fish sauce for and garnished with cilantro and basil. Amazing dinner!

  8. Luba

    So, I have a regular eggplant (not those pretty Japanese ones…) in my fridge. Any chance it could be used in this delicious-sounding dish?

    You can substitute it. However, the pieces without skin won’t blister. Take care and try your best to sear them well without them getting soggy from the oil. ~Garrett

  9. Jenn C

    I need to get my wok out! (And my work out, but I digress.)
    I used to do curries quite a bit, but haven’t done many lately… So, question… any idea how long Fish Sauce lasts in the fridge?

    About six months. ~Garrett

  10. Dan

    If you have good coconut milk which is separated in cream and milk you can use some of the cream instead of oil; you fry the cream until the oil starts to separate, then fry the curry paste in that coconut oil.

  11. Susan

    I made a yellow curry w/ chicken, from scratch curry ingredients, heating them first, a couple of months ago and it was fantastic..but my house reeked of curry for days! Heating those spices really does bring up the flavor and odor. Does the green curry essence linger like the yellow? I do love green curry w/eggplant.

    It all depends on the curry paste you’re using. Some don’t linger, others I’ve had to crack open a window and turn then vent on for. ~Garrett

  12. Mark

    Are kaffir lime leaves still unavailable in U.S. markets? Last time I checked, there was some kind of blight that was legally preventing their import.

    Yes, you can buy them in the U.S.. I have heard a lot of things about this, that the dry ones are illegal to import, but I do not think that’s the case. For a while a few states like California and Florida had strict rules about them because people were afraid of foreign citrus infections that could affect the citrus economies. Those have been overturned however, and many commercial citrus growers now openly sell these trees for the mass market (I have a dwarf one potted in my yard). A good place to order a dwarf kaffir lime tree is at Four Winds Growers. I got my kaffir lime and yuzu there. ~Garrett

  13. ruth

    Fish sauce does not need refrigeration. I keep mine in the pantry, and it will last for up to two years.

  14. Rosa

    If you have the large eggplants, try brushing them with oil, and grilling them or broiling them, and they will brown a bit, but becareful not to burn them under the broiler as they will stink up the house! I like the grilling on the BBQ when the weather permits. Since my daughter does not like cooked bell peppers, I made thin slices, and added on top of the prepared curry after it was plated, with a chiffonade of fresh basil.

  15. Fresh Curry

    OK, I live on the west coast and have access to fresh asian ingredients like lemongrass, galangal (you can sub fresh ginger) and even kafir lime leaves. Trust me – make your curry paste from scratch in a food processor. There are tons of recipes out there. Please don’t buy paste unless you are incredibly lazy. Take the 20 to 30 minutes it takes to create a curry paste in bulk and freeze what you don’t use.

    I’ve only made mine fresh once or twice and usually doctor the pre-made ones myself. You can’t necessarily attribute buying them to laziness as time, money, or simply access to the ingredients might be factors for a person. There are some really great curry pastes to be found in stores and online. ~Garrett

  16. Jennifer Chase

    Would you or someone else be able to post a tried-and-true good green curry paste recipe? I’d love to try making my own from scratch, but Thai food is so tricky – I’d love to use a recipe someone else knows works well. :)

    I will definitely look into it. ~Garrett

  17. naturegirl46

    Made it. Added shrimp at the end. Delish. Very authentic. Thank you.

  18. Mary

    I made this tonight — not with the eggplant — but with 3 tilapia fillets and approximately 15 medium shrimp. I had everything else in the recipe and it really came out nice. It was creamy, not too hot — and perfect over rice.
    Thank you for this recipe — I’ll definitely make it again!

  19. Toby Moose

    Tried this last night – Lovely!! A hit with the family.

    Made a few variations due to carnivore nature of family and limitations on available ingredients; this meant it was eggplant (aubergine for you Brits like me) and chicken, and using sweet basil instead of Thai basil.

    Still really good. We had it with Fragrant Rice and Indonesian crackers – excellent – will be making this again.

  20. Mimsey

    I found fresh Kaffir lime leaves at Whole Foods in Sacramento, CA. I understand from my Thai cookbook that the unused leaves can be frozen for about a year. Also, if you have access to an Asian market, look for frozen, minced lemon grass. It’s easy to use & keeps for ages.

  21. LOnfrichuk

    Absolutely delicious!! Will definately be a go-to favorite!

  22. Karin

    Two thumbs way up. Warning – Not for the faint of heart heat wise. I added the fish sauce in when sauteing the eggplant, it gives a nice dimension to a semi-veg dish.

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