Either fry the aubergine slices on each side until golden with a little oil and salt OR if you prefer pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (fan)/350ºF/Gas Mark 4, lightly coat the slices in oil and a sprinkle of salt and roast them until golden (around 15 minutes on each side), turning once. Set aside. (Note: we charred ours on a griddle pan first – a few minutes on each side)
Lightly fry the shallots/onion with the fennel seeds in the sesame oil until soft and golden.
Add the crushed garlic and fry for a further minute.
Add all the spices, stir and fry for another minute.
Add the coconut milk, tamarind paste, lemongrass, soya sauce, stock powder, syrup/sugar. Bring to the boil and then simmer to reduce for around 20-30 minutes.
Adjust the flavour to your taste, adding more soya sauce, syrup or lime juice (if necessary).
Remove the lemongrass before serving. Serve with rice and optional extras.