Thursday, June 26, 2008

The pickle you have held your breath for

Eggplant Pickle (Vambotu Pahi)
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons tumeric
  • oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • (or 1 1/2 tablespoons Ceylon curry powder instead of above 3)
  • 1/2 cup tamarind pulp
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 3 fresh green chillies, seeded and sliced
  • 8cm (3 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • extra salt to taste


Take two eggplants - any two will do, as ugly as you like (you can even buy them from the seconds shelf because their beauty is irrelevant) (in fact, I did).


Now, slice them into slices of exactly 1/2 inch - you have to be precise here. Okay, bull, slice them approximately 1/2 and inch thick - I won't tell if you don't.


Next, mix equal parts salt and tumeric. The recipe is far more precise in the amounts, but really, I always use more so my rule of thumb is keep making this mix a teaspoon each at a time until you are finished.


Coat each slice of eggplant in this mix - it only sticks on the white part. I sprinkle liberally, tap it as I tip it over to the other side, repeat and layer in a colander - then I put the excess back in to the tumeric/salt mix. At least, this is what I do now I have worked out it is the easy way. I also won't give you the photos that document the false starts.


Continue until you have coated every slice and you have a beautiful display in your colander. Of course, not everyone can have matching benchtops. Be warned, unless you are blessed with bright yellow benches, you may want to be a bit protective of them where tumeric is involved. Otherwise you WILL have bright yellow benches - be warned!!

Put the colander in a sink.


Kick back for an hour (or so).


Dry the slices on paper towel. Of course, if you are a really good environmentalist, you could use old teatowels - just make sure you have plenty and only wash them with clothes you want that bright yellow colour. For the average environmental hat-tippers, use recycled - you are going to use a few of them, as plenty of juice does come out.


Pour a generous amount of oil in a frypan and heat to medium. Isn't that a lovely white stove? I will admire it as long as possible - I fear that tumeric fumes may get it to blend with the benches all too soon...


Fry the slices on both side - don't burn them, don't just soak them in warm oil - if you have a loverly electric, this of course means constant juggling of controls...


Now for the sauce - grind up a tablespoon of black mustard seeds. If you have a nice little coffee grinder that says it can also do spices - DO NOT BELIEVE IT IN THIS INSTANCE - I have already done that experiment, and can assure you that while you get a wonderful display of whirling mustard seeds it does bugger all to cracking the little beggars.


Put the mustard seeds and 1/2 cup vinegar into a blender - yes, that historical artefact that I hold most dear - and give it a whirl. It will go a little frothy.


Add in an onion, 4 cloves garlic and 1 tablespoon ginger. I know you are told "finely chopped" this and "sliced" that - but just a rough chop and into the blender - it will be smooth pretty soon anyway.

Dry fry 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoons ground cummin and 1 teaspoon ground fennel - or if you can't be bothered and have some handy, use 1 1/2 tablespoons Ceylon curry powder.

Pour 3/4 cup hot water over 1/2 cup tamarind pulp - soak for about 10 minutes.


Heat some more oil and fry the onion/garlic/ginger/vinegar/mustard seed mixture for about 5 minutes.


Add the dry spice mix, 3 sliced green chillies (take out the seeds if you are a scaredy cat), a cinnamon stick,


the liquid from the tamarind pulp (give it a good squeeze) (get prepared for SOUR if you feel like licking your fingers) and some extra chilli powder (if you want the kick to go right through your cortex).


Add in the eggplant slices and any oil that has collected in the bowl.


Stir well, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add in the sugar and take off the heat.


Cool well before finding a few clean dry jars to put it in. Keeps for weeks in the fridge.

If it lasts that long.

Fantastic with curries, roasts, on sandwiches and dry biscuits!

4 comments:

Jayne said...

Bugger the recipe, I'm moving in for a few weeks :P

Me & Boo said...

I'm always scared of eggplant, its the resting it business!!! I might give them a trial run with your recipe though.

tiff said...

I'm with Jayne!
Packing my bags and coming to stay.
Also, glad you found the cord.

jeanie said...

me & boo - don't be afraid - bitter ones are nasty, but well treated ones can be so scrummy - I have a recipe for a yoghurt/cashew/spice crusted ones for nibblies that is just to die for!

Jayne, tiff - great - our spare beds are single and slats so it really will only be for the food and paradise, not the comfort!

Tiff - I found a work around about the cord in the comments of the previous post.