As I’ve mentioned before, Mr GP and I used to be (mostly) vegetarian, and one of the books I used a lot was the wonderful Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook. It’s divided into two main sections, Western Influence and Eastern Influence, and the Eastern Influence sections was probably one of my main introductions to vegetarian Indian food. As a side note, it also had some great menus, which I found useful as structuring vegetarian menus is sometimes a bit harder.
As you may have guessed, I do most of the cooking around here (though Mr GP is perfectly competent in the kitchen), but one of the areas he excels is in dishes involving fairly lengthy preparations with lots of chopping, or other dextrous activities – so he is in charge of rolling out pizzas, making gnocchi, sometimes dumplings or sushi, and usually…making this pickle. I’ve probably now ruined the natural order of things by making one of Mr GP’s specialities, but I had these eggplants to use, so what do you do? 🙂
This is a really wonderful pickle – rich, spicy, oily – it’s fabulous with curries but also delicious on sandwiches with cold meat, and I love it on cheese on toast. For this batch I only had a couple of random jars and couldn’t be bothered sterilising them (plus one is a plastic screw top) so I’ve stuck the jars in the fridge. But you could certainly bottle them as usual for room temperature storage (the process I use is here) and either way it lasts for ages – at least six months in the fridge, and probably longer, except that it keeps getting eaten, so I never find out how long it might last…
Adapted (very slightly) from Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
- 1kg eggplant
- 12 dried red chillies (I used a mixture of homegrown ones, mostly fairly small)
- 2 large cloves garlic
- about a 3cm piece of ginger
- 2 Tbs black mustard seeds (yellow are also ok if that’s what you can find)
- 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 375 ml oil (any reasonably flavourless one is fine)
- 3 tsp salt
- 100g brown sugar
- 185 ml vinegar (I used coconut vinegar, but have used white vinegar in the past)
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
Soak chillies in boiling water for five minutes. Slice eggplant thickly as pictured above. Combine chillies, a little of the soaking water, roughly chopped garlic and ginger, and mustard seeds in a blender, and blend to a rough paste.
Heat the oil gently in a large pan, and add blended mixture and turmeric. Fry for a few minutes, being careful not to burn the spices. Add the eggplant, and toss until evenly mixed. Cook, covered on low heat until eggplant is soft, stirring occasionally. Add salt, sugar and vinegar, and continue to cook gently until thick, and the oil has separated as in the bottom picture.
Remove from heat, stir in Garam Masala and bottle however you prefer. Makes approximately 1L.