Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bashi Musamma ( Eggplant Musamma)

"Have you tried bashi musamma ?" an old school friend of mine asked me one day.  It was the first time I heard about this so she explained that her mother makes a really delicious bashi musamma with smoked tuna and eggplants. I checked the old local cookbooks that I normally refer to but even then I knew this recipe was a new one and a more modern one.
I saw one bashi musamma recipe in a more recent cookbook, one which I didn't really give much thought mainly because some of the recipes contained Ajinomoto or salad cream and the writer can't seem to make up his mind whether to give English names or Dhivehi name to the recipe.

Anyway, after talking to my mother who said that musamma curry powder is really a slightly tweaked roasted curry powder (hanaakuri havaadhu) with the addition of sugar, kanamadhu (nuts) and raisins, I decided to use store-bought curry powder and added extra cumin, chilli powder and freshly ground cinnamon and cardamon. I have learnt that the storebought ground cardamon and cinnamon doesn't really have that fresh taste as you would get when using freshly ground cinnamon and cardamon. 

Like the tuna musamma I made a long time back, I  made a few cuts on the eggplant, but not going all the way through. I found it is best to try and use smaller ones rather than the big ones. If using the large long ones, cut each into 3 pieces so you get 6 pieces in total, make about 3 cuts on each piece like this.

If using smaller ones, leave the eggplant whole and make a few cuts like this.

For the curry paste, I mixed roasted curry powder, ground cumin, a little dried chilli powder, a little turmeric, salt and mixture of ground cinnamon and cardamon with a few tablespoons of water.

 After removing a teaspoon of this, I added some caramelized onion and smoked tuna mixture into the remaining curry paste. 

Using my fingers I filled the pockets  I made on the eggplants. Once done, any leftover curry paste is mixed with the 1 tsp curry paste I set aside earlier. 

To cook the musamma, I cooked the remaining onions, along with curry leaves and pandan leaf.

 Once the onions started to go brown, added some smoked tuna, cooked a few minutes then after lowering the heat, carefully added the prepared eggplants in a single layer.

 I mixed the remaining curry paste with some extra cinnamon and cardamom powder, a little sugar and water and a little coconut milk and poured it into the pan. The water should come halfway of the eggplants. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook. Swirl the pan holding the sides of the pan to mix everything, now and then.  I didn't put a wooden spoon in as the eggplants might break up.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, taste, add salt and a little lime juice before switching off.

Serve with a spice pilaf and tomato salad.

Yield: 4
Author: Nammi

Bashi Musamma ( eggplant musamma)

prep time: 30mins cook time: 20mins total time: 50mins


  • 6 mini eggplants
  • 1 large onion or 2 medium ones
  • 100g smoked tuna fillet ( use the slightly drier ones you find in supermarkets)
  • 3 tsp of store-bought roasted curry powder ( prepare homemade)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground dried red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp  turmeric
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 10-inch pandan leaf, cut into large pieces or knotted 
  • 2-3 green chillies, slit in half
  • a handful of Indian almonds or kanamadhu, sliced 
  • handful of raisins
  • 1  cup coconut milk ( used a mixture of dried coconut milk powder ( 2 tbsp mixed with 1 cup water (see note)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil or ghee
  • A little lime juice


How to cook Bashi Musamma ( eggplant musamma)

  1. Slice the smoked tuna into thin slices, take a handful of the tuna and roughly chop it. 
  2. Heat a pan with 2 tbsp oil and add half the onions and cook till the onions caramelize, once the onions start to caramelize add the chopped up smoked tuna. Stir fry, you will get this really heady "umami" taste. Cook 1-2 minutes and remove to a bowl.
  3. In a separate small bowl mix the curry powder, turmeric, chilli powder, 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of the cardamon, ground cumin and 2-3 tbsp of water, along with ginger and garlic and a pinch of salt. Remove 1  teaspoon of this paste to a separate bowl, set that aside. 
  4. Into the remaining curry paste  ( not the 1 tsp one),  add the caramelised onion/tuna mixture and mix well. Add an extra tablespoon of water if needed. 
  5. Make some incisions on the eggplant as shown on the above photoes.  Fill the eggplants with the prepared curry/onion mixture. 
  6. If there is any leftover curry paste in the bowl, mix this with the paste you set aside earlier. 
  7. Heat the pan with the remaining  oil fry the onions and once it starts to go translucent and starts to colour, add the pandan leaf and half the curry leaves and the remaining sliced smoked tuna. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes. 
  8. Arrange the stuffed eggplants in a single layer over the onions and the slit chillies. 
  9. Mix the leftover curry paste and sugar with coconut milk and water and pour it carefully into the pan. Swirl a little by holding the sides of the pan. Add a little salt, and then simmer, covered for about 8- 10 minutes. You can try to stir gently but I found that it is better to hold the sides and gently try to swirl the pan. 
  10. Once the eggplants are just tender, add the remaining curry leaves, and 1 the remaining 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and cardamom powders. Taste and adjust salt and simmer a few seconds. Squeeze in a little lime juice and then switch off. 


In this recipe, I used dried coconut milk powder. You can use fresh coconut milk, thick milk or use the ones found in can or packet. If using packed or canned coconut milk use about 1/3 cup milk mixed with about 3/4 cup water to make 1 cup of coconut milk. Keep in mind that different pack of this kind of coconut milk varies in thickness, some can be really thick while others can be quite runny.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. That's a LONG list of ingredients! LOL..but I do love a good curry. And this surely looks very tasty and flavourful, Nammi.

  2. I have to click any eggplant recipe I see, it is one of my favorite vegetables. I have never combined eggplants with fish though, sounds great!


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