A few weeks ago, I was visiting a friend in Anaheim, CA and stopped for a quick meal at a quick-service Sri Lankan joint and had a truly delicious eggplant dish. Deep fried eggplant cooked in a caramelized vinegary sauce. It was seriously addictive - not cloyingly sweet - a nice balance of sweet and savory. It seemed to straddle the line between snack and curry and pickle (think the 'mango pickle' you might enjoy with samosas or with a lamb dish). I want to recreate the dish at home.
It seems to be a very common Sri Lankan dish, but there are seemingly dozens; if not hundreds of different recipes out there. Some them using wildly different recipes and techniques. For example, some will say to season the strips of eggplant you cut up with turmeric and salt for 30 minutes before deep frying them. Others say to just deep fry them plain. Some of them have you soak mustard seeds in vinegar for 30 minutes and then make a paste out of the mustard seeds, others just have you fry the mustard seeds in oil before adding other ingredients. Some call for use of tamarind paste or pulp; others do not use any tamarind. For the record, I asked the owner at the restaurant if I tasted tamarind in the eggplant and he confirmed that I did, so I'll probably focus on recipes that use tamarind paste (which I already have some of at home).
The photo included in this post (courtesy of http://kavisaromaticworld.blogspot.com/) is nearly exactly what the dish looked like at the restaurant. I'm not even sure what to call the dish. Some recipes call it Eggplant Pickle, others call it Eggplant Curry, Wambatu Curry etc.
Anyway, before I try making it at home, I was wondering if anyone else here had done so and which recipe(s) you enjoyed the most.
I may post this query on a few different forums. Apologies if you read it more than once; I swear I'm not an eggplant spammer!