June 11, 2020
The beginning of summer is one of the best times to enjoy the bounty of local produce. The markets are filled with beautiful heirloom eggplants and tomatoes starting to make an appearance. One way to capture the delicious flavors is to make preserves, pickles, or masalas — all of which are secret weapons to deploy for making a meal in a pinch or to just enjoy on warm toast. Cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds are popular pickling spices and will add a lingering flavor.
This eggplant pickle is more like a relish and tastes good cold or warm and can be preserved in jars. Or pair it with plain yogurt sprinkled with black or red chile pepper and lettuce leaves for a light appetizer.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
2 cups eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 cup heirloom tomato, diced into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
15 to 20 kari leaves (optional)
1/2 cup minced red onions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Toss eggplant with one teaspoon salt and set aside.
In a shallow frying pan, heat the oil and pop the coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds. Within 2 to 3 seconds, add the kari leaves and minced red onions. Cook on medium to low heat for 4 to 5 minutes until the onions are wilted and translucent.
Add the salted eggplant and cook on high heat for 4 to 5 minutes until they have color on almost all sides.
Add the minced garlic, turmeric, red chile, and black pepper and stir into the mixture. Within a few seconds, add the tomatoes and cook on high heat until the mixture comes together and the oil rises to the top. Add salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.
There is a high oil-to-vegetable ratio, but the oil works as a preservative and keeps the flavors intact. If preserving in jars, add a tablespoon or two of oil on top of the jar to prevent any air from getting in.
Olive or sesame oil work well with most Indian pickles.
Add a tablespoon or two to scrambled eggs or to a stir-fry.
December 02, 2022