Saturday, July 24, 2010

Baigan ka Achar / Brinjal Pickle / Pickled Eggplant


Last few days have been busy with things flying out of the blue at me. Things have left me exhausted and me being a kind of a perfectionist makes life harder for me :) When I was in India I saved all the photos of all the delicacies and my travels in the computer at my home. And I forgot to copy my photo folder from my computer back at my home in India to my laptop while I was returning back to US. Being quite a big folder, the transfer failed quite a few times and I am planning other ways to transfer it. That's another thing on my mind. On my vacation I joined a month of yoga and meditation class. It has made me realize the importance of living in the present and not worrying excessively about things which have not been done or which cannot be done. Yoga has been a wonderful addition to my daily schedule and helps me relax through things which life throws at me. As my friend E says "Start with the baby steps first and things will be fine".

Well, coming back to this interesting pickle made with eggplant. I had two eggplants on hand which I bought from the farmer's market last week. I had made eggplant fritters and sabzi last week so instead of repeating the same sabzi's I thought about this pickle. I got to taste this pickle at a friend's home in India and was instantly hooked to it. It tastes good even if chili powder is not added and it is an excellent choice for kids who do not like spicy pickles. It is also a healthier version as it does not use much salt like the other pickles. I usually eyeball the ingredients so the ingredients listed are not in exact proportion. They can be adjusted as per ones individual taste. A great option to spread on bread instead of jam! Instead of eggplant, combination of cauliflower, carrot, zucchini, turnips (shalgum), green chilies, carrot can be used individually or in a combination. I am not sure how pickling raw banana will taste..but its a sure thing to try! Apricots and prunes can be used to made chunda or murabba kind of spicy bread/roti spread.

Ingredients

2 medium sized eggplant
1 1/2 tablespoon crushed yellow mustard seeds (this can be obtained at any Indian store or black mustard seeds can be coarsely powdered)
1 1/2 tablespoon kalonji or onion seeds
1/4 teaspoon methi or fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon saunf or fennel seeds
2 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon salt or as per taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
2 teaspoon red chili powder roasted for 1-2 minutes (use more if you want it spicy)
15 tablespoon oil (preferably mustard oil)

Method

Wash the eggplant and pat it dry completely. Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes. Put oil in a pan and add turmeric powder. Add the eggplant pieces and cook on high flames stirring constantly and gently. Cook for around 8 -10 minutes. Mix in salt, sugar, tamarind paste and vinegar. Keep aside. Roast the fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, onion seeds and mustard seeds for 4-5 minutes or till crisp. Pound it very coarsely using a spice grinder mortar and pestle. If using a electric grinder give a pulse for 2-3 seconds. We don't want to powder it but to just bruise the spices so that they will immediately infuse the flavor when added to the oil. Add the spices to the pickle and mix well. Keep the pickle in the sun for 2-3 days and later store it in the refrigerator. This pickle keeps good for around 10-15.