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Kadai Eggplant

This classic Indian eggplant is prepared in a kadai/karhai which looks like a wok and behaves similarly. The high heat helps the vegetables cook quickly and also aids in their caramelization to produce a rich flavor. The fragrant tomato and yogurt sauce with the combination of onions and bell peppers makes it an elegant dish to serve at a fancy dinner party or on a weekday.

  • Yield: 4 to 6


¼ cup/60 ml ghee or neutral oil like grapeseed

1 large onion/about 300 g, cut in half and thinly sliced

Fine sea salt

1 large bell pepper/about 200 g, cored and diced

1 large globe eggplant/about 680 g, diced into 1 in/2.5 cm cubes

2 Tbsp grated garlic

2 Tbsp grated ginger

1 Tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

¼ tsp ground green cardamom

28 oz/795 g can crushed tomatoes

½ tsp ground turmeric

2 Tbsp plain unsweetened Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, tender stems and leaves


Heat the ghee or oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan, kadai, or wok. Add the onion with a tiny pinch of salt, and sauté until it just starts to brown; the cooking time will vary. Add the bell pepper and sauté until it begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the onions and bell pepper to a plate using a slotted spoon, leaving the oil behind in the saucepan.

Add the eggplant with a tiny pinch of salt to the saucepan, and sauté over medium-high until the eggplant skin starts to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, red pepper flakes, and cardamom, and fold to coat well. Fold in the tomatoes, the sautéed onion, and bell pepper mixture, and cook covered with a lid over low heat until the eggplant is completely tender, often stirring to prevent sticking. Add the turmeric. Fold the yogurt and lemon juice, taste, and season with salt. Remove from the heat, and garnish with the cilantro. This dish will stay good for up to 4 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve hot or warm with rice or flatbread.


  • I salt this dish minimally as I cook because tomatoes are naturally rich in salt. I add tiny pinches of salt to the onion and eggplant during cooking because it hastens their softening and reduces the cooking time.
  • If the eggplant is cut and not used quickly, it can brown naturally due to the polyphenol oxidase enzyme. This won’t affect taste or texture. Drizzle and toss the pieces with 2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice if you want to avoid this.
  • Indian stores sell readymade jars of ginger-garlic paste. If you decide to use that, then use 4 Tbsp.
  • If you aren’t a fan of cilantro, use flat-leaf parsley, mint, chives, or scallions for the garnish.

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