Friday 31 July 2020

Vengna nu achar - pickled aubergines/eggplants

Vengna nu Achar
Pickled aubergines or eggplants
It was a ritual to pickle most vegetables in season. Parsi food was no different. An abundance of locally grown vegetables that had the remotest chance of going bad were generally pickled to prolong their life and offer them as a side over the harsher winter months.
This pickle, with all the wonderful #parsifood flavors, is no different.
A recipe shared by my friend and superb cook, Zenia, who takes delight in absolute perfection. While I have tweaked it to include the authentic ingredients used centuries ago, I hope you will all enjoy it at leisure.

This recipe will make just over 1/2 kg or a lb of pickle.

500 gm/ 1.1 lb eggplant 
Grape seed oil
1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger 
1 tbsp crushed fresh garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
12 curry leaves
1 tsp red chilli powder 
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 green chilli slit
3 tbsp fruit vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp crushed jaggery

Wash and dice the eggplant into small, equal cubes. 
Heat about 3 tbsp of oil and add the eggplant, stirring it gently. Lower the heat and allow it to cook for about 15 minutes, or until you can see it is soft. It should not turn to mush. 
With a slotted spoon, remove it from the pot. In the oil, add the ginger, garlic, salt, mustard seeds, and curry leaves, mix well, and add the chilli and turmeric powders. 
Finally, add 3 tbsp of fruit vinegar and a piece of jaggery to get the sour and sweetness to this. 
Mix the eggplant with the cooked masala mixture. Finish with the green chilies. The residue of the heat will cook the chillies and keep them firm.


You may increase the number of green chillies if you prefer it hot. 
Adding crushed red chilies instead of red chilli powder is an option. 
To preserve it for longer, pour a couple of tablespoons of hot grape seed oil after you bottle it. 
Fruit vinegar refers to apple cider vinegar or any other made of fruit.
Jaggery refers to pure cane sugar that is unrefined.
Fresh curry leaves are a must in this pickle.
While picking an eggplant, always take the one that feels light and is firm. This helps it with fewer sacks of seed.

My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.

The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022. 

The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.

Photograph courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala

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