This is another one of my dad's recipes. Dad used to grow karawilla in our backyard in Singleton, in the Hunter Valley when we lived there in the mid 1960s which must have made him the only person to be growing them in Australia at that time, and in a climate where winter frosts were common. You couldn't buy them anywhere. His seeds were smuggled into the country in his brother's luggage when he and his family migrated. You don't want to hear of half the things my family brought into the country in those days!

6 long thin brinjal
2 karawilla (bitter gourd)
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp salt
50 gms brown or white onion
vegetable oil for deep frying
1 tsp Maldive fish well-pounded (or prawn powder - both optional)
1 sprig of curry leaves finely sliced (optional)
2 tsp sugar
a splash white vinegar


Slice the brinjal and karawilla into thin rounds – a couple of millimeters thick should do it. Don’t’ worry about removing the karawilla seeds – they fry up nice and crunchy.  Toss the brinjal and karawilla with the salt and turmeric and let them drain in separate colanders for 1 hour or more minutes.

Slice the onions thinly into semicircles.

Gently dab dry the brinjal and karawilla with kitchen paper/paper towel. The salt will have drained out some liquid from them, and so some of their bitterness, and they will be slightly damp which will make the oil spit when they are put into it if you haven’t dried them a tad first. Toss away any of the liquid that has been drawn out.

Heat oil to deep frying temperature. You can check it’s ready by dropping a slice of brinjal into the oil. You should get a satisfying eruption of tiny bubbles, otherwise it isn’t warm enough.

Deep fry the brinjal till golden brown. 

Then separately deep fry the karawilla till very dark, almost burned but not quite. You can use the same oil.

Drain the brinjal and eggplant on kitchen paper.

Put the fried vegetables and the fresh sliced onion into a bowl, add the Maldive fish and curry leaves, a light dressing of vinegar and sugar, toss and serve.

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