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. 🙂
Oil, for shallow frying
1 large round eggplant
Wash the eggplant, cut off the stalk and cut into slices and as you slice the eggplant, put the slices in a bowl of salted water (enough water to cover all the slices and 1/2 tsp salt dissolved in it). This will prevent any discoloration off the slices.
Let it stand in the salted water till you make the batter.
For the batter:
1 cup chickpea flour / besan
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/3 -1/2 tsp red chilly powder
1/4 tsp. carom seeds / ajwain
Salt, to taste
A little water
Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and gradually add water to make a smooth batter without any lumps. The batter shouldn’t be too think and neither should it be too thin. It should coat the back of a spoon when you dip it in.
Heat some oil in a pan. Dip the slices into the batter and carefully place them on the pan. Let them cook on a medium flame till they are a nice golden brown.
Turn the slices over and brown the other side as well.
Drain on some absorbent paper towels to get rid of the excess oil.