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Sri Lankan Recipe : Fried Pea Aubergine (Thibattu Mallum)


  • 2 cups pea aubergines
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup grated coconut, white part only
  • 1 pandan leaf, cut into 1cm lengths
  • 1 sprig curry leaf
  • 2-3 bird’s eye chillies, cut
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp crushed Maldive fish
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ lime, juice


  1. Smash the pea aubergines to crack them and rinse to wash away the seeds. Drain and fried in 2 tbsp oil for about 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can blanch them.
  2. Heat up a pan over medium flame and add in the grated coconut, pandan leaf, curry leaf and bird’s eye chilli. Fry until aromatic, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, turmeric powder and Maldive fish. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Add in the lime juice and prepared pea aubergines. Stir to mix well. Dish out.

Maldive dish is bonito, or sometimes tuna, that has been dried so hard in the hot sun that it needs no salting. It is often sold in pieces and needs to be ground before use in most of the Sri Lankan recipes. You can grate Maldive fish using a fine cheese grater, but pounding it in the mortar and pestle is not very effective, a rolling grinding motion works better. You can replace Maldive fish with dried bonito flakes, lightly fried soaked and drained dried prawns or any dried, unsalted fish, or even meat floss. The taste is quite mild and only slightly fishy. You can also opt to omit it altogether in this recipe.

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Last Modified: 11/28/11.