I’ve been on a bit of an unplanned break but I’m back again, with a pickle recipe this time. remember disliking quite a few kinds of vegetables as a child. Eggplant, or Brinjal as it is known in India, was quite high on that list of disliked vegetables. Years and years later, I have come to like it cooked a few different ways. I like home made pickles and one favourite is an Indian style Eggplant or Brinjal Pickle.
I discovered this particular pickle a few years ago on a trip to Munnar. Munnar is a hill station in Kerala, famous for its tea estates, scenic views and lovely cool weather. We stayed at a homestay run by a couple who offered meals along with stay. The lady was a pretty good cook, and an Eggplant or Brinjal Pickle was one of the many things she cooked for us.
I got the recipe from her and kept telling myself I would make it. Unfortunately, I forgot to jot it down, and eventually ended up with only a vague memory of it. Then a year later I acquired well used copies of two Parsi cookbooks. I love picking up old books like these when I can. There’s a treasure of food recipes, memories and cultural knowledge tucked away in them.
One of them is titled The Cook Book by Members of the All Day Spend Group published in 1966 by the Zoroastrian Stree Mandal. It’s inscribed “To Helen and Pilloo, With Best Wishes & Compliments from Khorshad Homi”. As is with a lot of cookbooks from that time, there are no pictures in it and recipes take a little while to figure out. There are quaint directions like, “Store in the Frigidaire”! Ingredients are measured in a bewildering mix of grams or kilos, ounces, seers, cups, teaspoons, etc.
To cut a rambling story short, there’s a Brinjal Pickle contributed by one Amy E. Chenoy. That and decent harvest of long slim, green eggplants from my kitchen garden got me thinking about pickle again. The recipe below was inspired by it. Use a variety of eggplant that will stay reasonably firm after frying or cooking. Otherwise you will end up with a mushy, less pretty but still good pickle.
This spicy, salty, slightly sweet and sour pickle goes well with rice, chappathis and other flatbreads, and even yeasted bread. Keep it refrigerated and it should keep for about a week. This pickle is to be made and enjoyed in small batches at a time.
Eggplant or Brinjal Pickle
- 6 to 8 long green eggplants
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp tamarind pulp/ paste
- Salt to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1/2 tsp garlic paste
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 to 2 tbsp powdered jaggery
- Cut the eggplant into approximately 1.5-inch long and 0.5-inch wide pieces. Oak them in salted water for about 15 minutes. Drain and sicard the water. Pat the eggplant pieces dry.
- Heat the oil in a small wok. Deep fry the eggplant till done and remove from the oil to a small bowl. Add the turmeric and chili powders, salt and tamarind to this and toss well. Keep aside.
- Add the mustard seeds to the remaining oil. When they splutter, add the ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the spiced fried eggplant and powered jaggery to the wok. Mix well and let it cook for a minute or so till the oil floats on the side.
- Cool and bottle. Refrigerate.