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In a pickle

February 7, 2010

The great thing about moving into a house with a garden that hasn’t been inadvertently killed by my neglect is that there are always lots of delicious things popping up. We have been watching the progress of several eggplant plants which have recently begun to bear fruit. These are what Mama Explody, chief gardener, refers to as ‘volunteer plants’, that is, self-sown plants which have popped up via the compost we use to fertilise the garden. We have already enjoyed an abundance of ‘volunteer’ tomatoes and coriander this season. It’s like garden Wheel of Fortune! And I’ll ‘volunteer’ to eat them.

We need a volunteer!

In anticipation of cooking a rich goat curry this week, we decided to preserve the first harvest and make a spicy eggplant pickle using some fresh chillies from the garden as well. We chose a recipe from the Encyclopedia of Asian Food by the first lady of Asian cooking, Charmaine Solomon.

Sri Lankan Eggplant Pickle

1kg eggplants
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground turmeric
oil for frying (I used canola)
1 tbsp black mustard seeds (I scoured every shop in town but they didn’t have these, so I used yellow)
1/2 cup vinegar (I used malt vinegar)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fennel
1/2 cup tamarind pulp, soaked in 1 cup of hot water and strained
3 fresh green chillies, seeded and sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp sugar

Freshly picked Japanese eggplants

Spice up your life!

Slice eggplants thinly, rub with salt and turmeric, put in a bowl and leave for at least 1 hour. This extracts liquid from the fruit, increasing its powers of preservation. Drain liquid and blot eggplants dry on paper towels.

Self preservation

Now for the toilsome part: heat about 2.5cm oil in a frying pan and fry eggplant slices quite slowly until brown on both sides. I only fried 3-4 slices at a time to ensure that the pan didn’t get crowded and the oil remained hot. Lift out with slotted spoon and put in a dry bowl. Reserve oil.

Put mustard seeds in vinegar in a blender, cover and blend on high speed until mustard is ground (I actually left some of my mustard seeds whole). Add onion, garlic and ginger, cover and blend again until a smooth paste.

Put coriander, cumin and fennel in a small dry pan and heat gently, shaking or stirring, until medium brown in colour.

Heat 1/2 cup of reserved oil and fry onion paste for 5 minutes. Add spices, chillies, cinnamon, chilli powder and tamarind liquid. Add eggplant and any oil that has accumulated in the bowl, stir well, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sugar and taste for salt. Bottle in sterilised jars. I’ll tell you how long it keeps for when I figure it out.



18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2010 22:58

    Eggplant pickles look delicious! Just the kind of thing I like to make when I’m having a domestic moment. Excited to see you have a blog, and a big quacky hello to Limpy ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. February 7, 2010 23:00

    Looks fantastic!!! I want some!

  3. February 8, 2010 00:29

    I want to see a LOL-Duck.

    I too have some volunteer eggplant in my back garden, but not nearly as abundant as yours. I end up just slicing and baking them rather than pickling – but it looks ‘delish!

  4. Emma permalink
    February 8, 2010 00:58

    Nice. Am I the only person in the world without a blog now? We are eating corn from our garden tonight, but everything is very soggy in Sydney.

  5. Tal permalink
    February 8, 2010 01:12

    On another note I am obsessed with parsnip but all I can think to do with it is roast it. So I am asking you dear felix for inspiration. Go!

  6. felixexplody permalink*
    February 8, 2010 01:24

    Y and Reemski: Thanks! I look forward to trying it with my goat curry later this week… baaaa!

    Liam: Look out for Limpy LOLs coming soon…

    Emma: Yes you are. Seriously though, I miss hearing about your kitchen garden adventures.

    Tal: I have the perfect parsnip recipe for you, a somewhat surprising combination! I will look out for some nice fresh parsnips and post it.

  7. Kate permalink
    February 8, 2010 04:17

    Thankyou Felix, I have cravings for eggplant pickle now which will not be satisfied until I make this recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚ love it.

  8. February 8, 2010 08:23

    Congrats to you and limpy on your new blog!

  9. Le Petite Lapin. permalink
    February 8, 2010 11:19

    Mes don’t know much aboot food, aber Ich like muchly to input some of these foodstuffs deep and out of sight in mine belly.

  10. Maggie Alderson permalink
    February 8, 2010 16:31

    I love Limpy! Love your blog.

    To ensure you get a book, then – obviously – film deal, I think you should tie it into the zeitgeist a little, by explaining why you are back with Limpy, caring about the compost heap.

    I’m thinking Eat, Pray, Duck kind of thing.

    Could be woven into the text and recipe, gardening tips, wherever you go with it.

    I’m jealous of WordPress.


  11. Bobmeade permalink
    February 9, 2010 06:42

    Best case for smellovision on a blog I’ve ever read.

  12. February 9, 2010 08:23

    Limpys the duck, yes? I love eggplant but no one in my family will eat it so I rarely buy it.

  13. February 9, 2010 10:07

    Looks fantastic and has me wanting eggplant pickle at 10am!

    If you need any ‘volunteers’ in Melbourne to eat the pickle just send some my way.

    Nice jars too. I never seem to have any around for that sort of stuff.

  14. felixexplody permalink*
    February 9, 2010 11:44

    aptronym, Kate, Bobmeade, Jo and pommiefoodie: thanks for your kind words!

    Lapin: if you’re lucky, one day I will input foodstuffs into your belly. I just priced some rabbit today actually… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Maggie: thanks for your sage advice!

    barbara: yes, Limpy is one of the cute wood ducks that frequents our little spot on the river. I haven’t always been a fan of eggplant: I remember that once when I was small I had a tanty because Mama Explody planted some and I didn’t like it ๐Ÿ™‚ It took a fantastic moussaka to bring me around, and I’ve never looked back.

  15. pommiefoodie permalink
    February 9, 2010 13:02

    This is a weird and mad coincidence but I actually made this pickle about a fortnight ago and it worked really well!

  16. David permalink
    February 9, 2010 19:58

    This looks great. Katie already has tomatoes and strawberries in our garden – I’m sure she’d love to try eggplant.

    Emma: to paraphrase Sir Michael Gambon on Top Gear, ‘I had a blog once, but I had to give it up…because it made my eyes water.’

  17. pommiefoodie permalink
    February 10, 2010 13:24

    Oh dear – sorry Felix, I lied. It was Stephanie Alexander’s aubergine pickle. Hope yours works anyway!

    • felixexplody permalink*
      February 10, 2010 18:01

      Still a pretty amazing coincidence! Next time I’ll try Stephanie’s!

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