Whenever I see or taste something tickling to my tastebuds, I have this urge to go back home and recreate it. The eggplant pickle featured below was the outcome of tasting a gorgeous pickle made of eggplants (or brinjal or aubergine) at a dinner. Eggplants are great vegetables. They can be served simply just by frying them with a little salt, or made into any amount of elaborate dish by roasting, stuffing, baking. They just absorb spices so beautifully that its no wonder that all over Asia there are thousands of recipes with them. Their sizes also make them amenable to lot of different creations. For this recipe I picked small eggplants, about two to three inches long, rotund or leggy, only they must be bright, shiny purple without any bruise. On each eggplant I make a deep cross, extending upto a centimetre or so to stem. I like to salt them for half an hour just in case some of them are a little on the bitter side. This also allows a lot of water to drain out, which I am told makes the eggplants absorb less oil while frying. The salted eggplants are drained of their water by tissue papers, patted dry and then deep fried. In fact, the drawing out of the water considerably reduces the frying procedure since the eggplants soften much faster. The whole procedure of frying both sides takes just about ten minutes. Drain the eggplants on an absorbent paper but keep the oil. The next step is making the spice mix. I started with about 750gm eggplants, so the measure is for that amount.
For 750 gm small sized eggplant
4 Tablespoon salt for salting the eggplants
5 inch ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
3 dried chilli pods, deseeded
0.7 cup vinegar
Make a paste of the ginger, garlic, dried chilli and vinegar. I did this with the blender.
1/2 Tablespoon turmeric, usually comes as powder
1 Tablespoon black mustard
3/4 Tablespoon fenugreek
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
Roast all the spices in a kadai/wok over medium heat without oil until the aroma comes off, about 2 minutes. Cool them. Grind them in a spice grinder. Mix them with the ginger-garlic-vinegar paste.
0.5 cup sugar
3/4 cup Kasundi or Indian prepared mustard
3/4 Tablespoon tamarind paste
Mix the kasundi, tamarind and sugar with a whisk.
Keep about 2 Tablespoon of oil left over from frying the eggplants in the kadai. Heat it. Put the ginger-garlic , spice and vinegar mix and saute for about 5-7 minutes. The oil should separate out. At this stage, add the kasundi-tamarind-sugar. Stir continously to dissolve the sugar. This takes about another 10 minutes. Cool the mixture completely. In the meantime, in sterilised bottle arrange the cooled, drained, fried eggplants so that their stems stick out at the mouth of the bottle. Pour the cooled spice paste. If the spice doesn't completely cover the eggplants add some oil from the kadai. Before putting on the lid the bottle must be allowed to come to room temperature. Close, upturn it once so that the stems see some of the spice! Store it at room temperature. I usually find it keeps longer in the refrigerator once I have opened it. The finished product does not look great, but it taste heavenly!
I love it with rice!