Then one year, a dear friend of mine had to visit her aunt who lived an hour and a half away from where we lived and she asked me to go with her. At lunch, she served up a home made eggplant pickle that I fell in love with. I must have been about 16 years old then, so it never really occurred to me to ask her how she made it, nor did I have access to the tonnes of information that is accessible on the internet in today’s day and age. But over the years, I’d think about that wonderful pickle and often wondered if I would every find something similar again.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I got a fantastic deal on some eggplant and picked up a couple of large ones. I originally thought I’d grill it and store it in some olive oil with some herbs. But I ran out of time and it got to the stage where we were to leave for our holiday the very next day. What I haven’t told you yet is that a few weeks prior to that I came across a recipe for a Goan eggplant pickle, which I glanced at and moved on without making much of it. Since grilling and preserving the eggplant in such a short time frame was out of the question, I thought about that recipe and dug around for it.
I was a little sceptical since I’d never made a pickle before. But I figured I had nothing to lose but trying my hand at it this once. I always thought it was a daunting process. I was amazed at how simple this recipe was. A few spices, a little cooking and a week of maturing. We got back from our holiday to a really fabulous pickle. Very similar to my friend’s aunt’s version. This recipe is a keeper. I made a few changes to the recipe and the one below, reflects those changes. It’s safe to say that I’m very happy with this first attempt and can’t wait to try out some more as and when we need to replenish our stock. This pickle is mildly spiced and sweet at the same time and is a wonderful accompaniment to a simple dal and rice or any meal really. 🙂
Adapted from: Erica’s Yummy Food
2 large eggplants
20 cloves of garlic
2 pieces of ginger, each about 3″ long
1 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp red chilly powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup oil
2 heaping tsp mustard seeds
A handful of curry leaves
4 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Prep a glass bottle but thoroughly washing and making sure it is completely dry. (You could use mason jars if you like.) Any moisture on the bottle will result in your pickle going bad. It will get moudly and you wont be able to eat it. I simply place the bottle in a dishwasher and it is perfectly washed and bone dry.
Cut the eggplant into cubes (about 1/2″).
Sprinkle the eggplant with 4 tsp of salt and toss well. Set this aside for 2 hours.
You can now prep the rest of your ingredients, while you wait for the eggplant to discard all the excess moisture.
Peel and roughly chop the ginger and garlic.
Using a mixer / food processor, grind the ginger, garlic, fenugreek leaves, cumin seeds, cloves, red chilly powder, turmeric powder and vinegar to a paste.
After 2 hours, you will notice that the eggplant has released a lot of moisture. Drain all the liquid from the eggplants and gently squeeze the eggplant to get rid of any liquid. You want to be gentle and let the cubes retain their shape but still discard and excess liquid.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Lower the heat to a medium low.
Add the mustard seeds and let them sputter.
When they are sputtering, carefully add the curry leaves.
Add the spice paste and cook on a low to medium heat for 10 minutes. But cooking the paste first, you are left with a mellow flavour and not a sharp tartness of the vinegar. Stir frequently.
Add the eggplant cubes and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir gently every now and then to mix well, but be careful to not break down the eggplant pieces. After cooking for 10 minutes, the eggplant cubes should be tender but will still somewhat retain their shape and not be too mushy.
Add the sugar to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes and now you will see the oil separating at the sides of the pan.
Take off the heat and spoon the hot pickle into the prepared glass bottles. Cover the bottle and leave it on your counter to cool. (Bottling it when it is still hot creates a vacuum when the mix cools and ensures your pickle has a good shelf life.)
When it has completely cooled, you can store it in the fridge. I left mine to mature for a week while we were away.
Now, do your pickle loving self a favour and try this recipe out soon. You can thank me later. 🙂
With great difficulty, I narrowed down recipes I wanted to try to these – her spinach gratin, this beautiful pickled beets and feta cheese salad, an interesting pickled beets, walnuts and goats cheese tart, another lovely salad – her mini tomato, mozzarella an avocado salad, these parmesan oven fries and corn fritters. You’ve most like figured that I went with the corn fritters. But I also bought some beetroot to try out Katie’s take on pickling them.
These corn fritters were very interesting. They were really easy to make and once I tasted them, I realised they were pretty close to being savoury pancakes. Immediately, my mind started thinking of other things I could add to them. Could you imagine bacon bits in these pancakes. I know that’s what I want to try when I make these again. Needless to say, we quite enjoyed these fritters. The goats cheese was a nice addition. This was the first time I tried goats cheese and I really liked it. I couldn’t get my hands on the creamy variety like Katie used for this recipe, so I just crumbled some over.
Onto hurdle number 2. For some reason I was under the impression that I had a bottle of balsamic vinegar in my pantry and then when I went to make that delectable reduction, realised I didnt. Frantically looking for options, I found some balsamic salad dressing and decided to use that. I figured worse case scenario, I’d have to make do without the glaze. But it turned out pretty well. Though I would like to try this glaze again using proper balsamic vinegar. In all, it was a really interesting experience. Thank you for introducing me to this recipe Katie.
Corn Fritters with Balsamic Honey Reduction
For the reduction:
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Stir both till mixed.
Bring to a boil and then simmer till it reduces to a thick sauce.
For the fritters:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp sweet corn kernels
1/2 cup milk, approx. (you may need a little less)
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
Goat’s cheese, to crumble over
Balsamic Honey reduction, to drizzle over
Dried parsley, to garnish
Mix the flour and baking powder.
Add the sweet corn kernels and milk and whisk till combined to a batter.
Cover and set aside for about 15 minutes.
Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
Stir the batter and dollop a heaped tbsp. of the batter for each fritter.
Cook till golden brown and then flip. It’ll take about 2-3 minutes per side depending on the heat.
Add more oil if needed.
To serve, crumble some goat’s cheese over the fritters and drizzle some of the balsamic honey reduction.
Garnish with the parsley, if desired.
If you haven’t tried your hand at it yet, here’s a handy dandy video tutorial. You will be amazed at how simple it is to make these pretty flowers.
You can find the template for these flowers here.
And yeah, feel free to share this videos with your friends and other crafters that might enjoy it.