To coincide with the release of Megan's new plant-based cookbook, Little Bird Goodness, Megan decided to challenge four of the most influential chefs and cooks in NZ to create a plant-based dish, in an effort to showcase just how easy and delicious plant-based cuisine can be, and how beneficial incorporating more plants into our diet can be for our health, and the planet. First up in our Plant Based Challenge is Nadia Lim with this incredibly fragrant and flavourful Eggplant Curry Laksa, inspired by her Malaysian heritage. Try making the recipe yourself at home, or find it on The Unbakery menu until 8th September.
Want to get involved in Little Bird Organics plant-based challenge yourself? Post your own creation to Facebook or Instagram with #LittleBirdGoodness and #PlantBasedChallengeNZ anytime from now until 30th September for the chance to win several prizes generously donated by Air New Zealand, Pullman Auckland, The French Café, Meredith’s, Ceres Organics, Nadia Lim and Jordan Rondell.
Eggplant Curry Laksa with Kelp Noodles and Asian Greens
2 cups coconut milk (you can make your own – like Megan’s homemade coconut milk)
1/2 cup water
1 stick lemongrass (white part only)
2 kaffir lime leaves
3cm piece fresh ginger
3cm piece fresh turmeric
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 thai red chilli (deseed if you don’t like it hot)
1 tsp coconut sugar
2 tsp tamari
A few pinches of salt
1 packed of kelp or vermicelli noodles
¼ cup tamari
½ small savoy or white cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
½ tsp toasted sesame oil
4 Japanese eggplants (the long thin light purple ones, you’ll find them at most Asian stores)
3cm piece ginger, finely grated
2 tsp tamarind paste
12-16 oyster mushrooms
1 tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
4 sticks curry leaves
¼ cup coconut chips
1 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ cup cashews (lightly toasted)
2 handfuls fresh herbs (coriander, mint, basil)
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
To make the curry base, blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender for 1 minute until smooth. Sieve the mixture with a fine mesh sieve to remove the fibre from the spices, set aside. You can make this ahead of time and store in the fridge for a few days.
Remove kelp noodles from the packet and rinse well. Place in a bowl with the tamari, and allow to soften. Give them a little massage with your fingers, and leave for around 15-30 mins. Once they have softened, pour of the tamari and rinse well. Place in a bowl with the other salad ingredients and toss together.
Slice the shallots into 1/8ths and cook on medium heat for around 10 mins with a little coconut oil until they begin to soften. Set aside.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, and lightly score the flesh in a criss cross pattern with a knife. Heat a large frying pan to a medium heat, and place the eggplants face down in the pan for 3-4 mins, or until light browned, then turn over and cook on the other side. The timing will depend on how thick your eggplants are, make sure they are soft and cooked right through. Add a little coconut oil, the cooked shallots, grated ginger and tamarind, and cook for 30 seconds. Finally add in the curry base and simmer for 3-4 mins until the coconut curry starts to thicken.
In a separate pan, fry the oyster mushrooms on a medium to high heat with a little coconut oil and pinch of salt until golden, this should take 2-3 minutes.
Bring the coconut oil to a medium high heat and fry the curry leaves with a pinch of sea salt for 30 seconds, or until crisp and bright green. Add in the coconut chips and cook for a further 10 seconds. Both of these can burn quickly, so remove from the pan right away and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil.
Place the kelp noodle salad in the centre of a large serving bowl and place eggplant, curry sauce and oyster mushrooms to one side. Top with curry leaves, cashews, a wedge of lime and plenty of fresh herbs
- You can substitute the kelp noodles for vermicelli noodles or other rice noodles.
- Add more spring veggies to the salad like snow peas, chopped bok choy or finely shredded carrots.
- If you can’t get ahold of the spices to make the curry base, you could also use a good quality curry paste.