Spiced Eggplant With Tomato and Mustard Seeds Recipe

Spices, tomato, and mustard give this easy vegetarian eggplant dish heat and zing.

Spiced Eggplant With Tomato and Mustard Seeds
Michael Harlan Turkell

Why This Recipe Works

  • Salting the eggplant draws out excess moisture, so it bakes up meaty and dense.
  • Rinsing the salted and drained eggplant ensures the final dish doesn't end up too salty.
  • Kashmiri red chile powder, vinegar, and brown sugar offer the dish a balanced hit of spice, acid, and sweetness.

Tender eggplant gets tossed in a lively curry paste with tomato, vinegar, and mustard before it's baked in the oven. This easy vegetarian side, inspired by the classic Bengali dish begun-er tok, is perfect as an accompaniment to saucy chicken tikka masala or simply scooped up with flaky parathas.

Recipe Details

Spiced Eggplant With Tomato and Mustard Seeds Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 90 mins
Serves 4 servings

Spices, tomato, and mustard give this easy vegetarian eggplant dish heat and zing.


  • 2 pounds (about 900g) baby eggplant or Japanese eggplant

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (30g) kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 cup ghee, butter, or coconut oil; either refined or virgin coconut oil is fine (2 ounces; 55g)

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chile powder (or 1 teaspoon cayenne)

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (1 1/2 ounces; 45g)

  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons mustard oil (see note)

  • 2-inch chive sections, picked cilantro leaves, or thinly sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)


  1. If using baby eggplants, cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. If using Japanese eggplants, slice crosswise at a sharp angle into 1-inch-thick pieces. Score the cut sides of the eggplant in a crosshatch pattern using the tip of a sharp chef's knife or paring knife. Toss eggplant with 2 tablespoons kosher salt and set aside to drain in a colander set over the sink or a large bowl for 1 hour.

  2. Rinse excess salt off eggplant and gently pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat oven to 500°F (260°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil.

  3. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt ghee, butter, or coconut oil until liquefied. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, and Kashmiri red chile powder. Fry spices, stirring frequently, until mustard seeds pop, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 cup water. Cook until mixture turns brick-red, about 5 minutes.

  4. In a large bowl, toss eggplant and spice mixture together until evenly coated. Spread eggplant evenly across rimmed baking sheet, dolloping on any spice mixture left behind in the bowl. Cover baking sheet with a sheet of foil or with a second inverted rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and bake until eggplant is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until charred and blackened in some spots, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

  5. Drizzle with mustard oil and garnish with chives, cilantro, or scallions, if desired. Serve right away.


Mustard oil is banned for human consumption in the US, but its harm is up for debate. It’s a traditional ingredient used in a lot of Indian and Bengali cooking, and I feel comfortable consuming it in small quantities. If you’d rather avoid it, you can get a similar punch by whisking 1/2 teaspoon Colman’s dry mustard powder into 1 tablespoon of any neutral oil.

Special Equipment

Chef's knife, mixing bowl, rimmed baking sheet

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
259 Calories
18g Fat
26g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 259
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 18g 23%
Saturated Fat 9g 44%
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 814mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 7g 23%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 6mg 29%
Calcium 30mg 2%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 429mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)