Sri Lankan Eggplant Pickle
This recipe is adapted from the Sri Lankan eggplant pickle, the classic dish Wambatu moju. Sri Lankan curries have a blend of fiery spices, flavor, and texture. The book Sri Lankan Cooking: 64 Recipes from the Chefs and Kitchens of Sri Lanka by Douglas Bullis, Wendy Hutton was my first introduction to Sri Lankan cooking and enjoyed cooking many Sri Lankan recipes. Now many of you foodies out there can relate to this. There are some dishes that you adapt from other cuisines and it becomes part of your everyday food. This is one such dish that was adapted to suit my family’s taste and it is simply a feel-good recipe.
This pickle is a combination of heat, sour and sweet. The heat is from green chilly and red chilly powder and the slight tart from the vinegar. There is a kick of pepper and mustard and to balance the flavors add a little bit of sugar. You can make it your own by adjusting the ingredients to get a balanced taste and flavor. There is an additional layer of flavor from dried fish/ dried shrimp. It adds such a unique flavor to this pickle. You can pair this pickle with any meal, but it tastes best with steamed rice yogurt, appam, and rice rotis. Try this pickle, you will surely love it.
The main ingredient of this recipe is of course eggplant. You can use the regular large eggplant or the long and slender Chinese eggplant. The Indian baby eggplant also works well. If you are using the large eggplant, you can cut thin strips closer to the skin for this recipe. Cutting into thin long strips will help even frying and crispness. The thick spongy part can be used to make a smoky dip or in curries like sambar. Let the strips marinate with salt and turmeric for 10 to 15 minutes and squeeze off the excess liquid before frying.
There is a definite spice kick, mild sweetness, and sourness from vinegar. You can adjust the ratio of vinegar and sugar according to your taste. For spice kick, I have used Kashmiri chilly powder and pepper powder. You can alternate chilly powder with sliced green chilly. You can use 8-10 green chilly for this recipe. Mustard seeds, fried shallots, and curry leaves add lots of flavors. The goal is to bring the right balance between salty, sweet, and sour – none should overpower the other.
There is an additional layer of flavor from dried fish/ dried shrimp. It adds such a unique flavor to this pickle. Dry roast the dried shrimp or fish and make a fine powder before adding to the pickle. But if you want a vegetarian version, you can skip adding dried fish.
How long can you store this pickle? You can store this in an airtight container for up to a week at room temperature. You can store it for 15 days in the refrigerator.
How to make Eggplant pickle
Cooking time- 25 minutes
Recipe type- Pickle/ condiment
Cuisine- Sri Lankan
Eggplant -3 cup thin slices
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste
Coconut oil for frying
Curry leaves- a few
Shallots- 8-10 chopped or whole
Pepper- 1/2 tsp
Onion- 1 small
Chilly powder- 2 tbs
Ginger garlic paste- 1 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1 1/2 tbs
Dry shrimp- 1/4 cup
Sugar- 2 tsp
Vinegar- 1/4 cup
The first step is to thinly slice the eggplants. Cut into thin long strips. Mix in turmeric and salt and let it marinate for 10 – 15 minutes. Squeeze off the excess liquid from the eggplant and spread on paper towel. Heat oil in a pan and fry it in batches in medium heat. When it is golden brown, drain and set aside.
In the same oil, fry sliced shallots, onions, green chilly and curry leaves and set aside.
If you are using dried shrimp, dry roast till it is nice a crisp. Make a coarse powder and set aside.
Make a fine paste of mustard seeds and black pepper and set aside.
Heat two tablespoon oil in a pan and add ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw flavor disappears. Add the ground mustard paste and cook till oil separates. Add chilly powder, sugar, dry shrimp powder and vinegar. Mix well and add all the fried ingredients and toss gently. Remove from the stove and let it cool down. Transfer into a dry airtight glass container. Serve with rice or appam.
Hope you will all enjoy!