Spicy Eggplant Pickle (and thank you!)
Before I get to this recipe I wanted to say thank you everyone for your sweet messages about the upcoming cookbook (and the newest addition to the farm, our daughter Pepper). I plan to do a little recap of this past year over the course of a few “farm diaries” posts and catch some of you long time blog readers up on life at Tumbleweed Farm. In the meantime, I want to share this recipe for spicy eggplant pickle. This it’s seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and we’re going to have plenty of eggplants at the farmers market this weekend and I want to encourage local folks to pick some up and make this lovely condiment. It’s spicy, sweet and full of pungent aromas that will have your kitchen smelling the best it’s ever smelled!
So here’s a little back story to this recipe. My dear friend Blayney has made me a jar of Parsi eggplant pickles from the cookbook “My Bombay Kitchen” by Niloufer Ichaporia for years. She’s always encouraged me to make it but I took one look at the recipe and thought, “damn, that’s too much chopping and looks like WAY too many ingredients.” Turns out, it’s not bad at all. Sure, there’s some chopping and the version I’m sharing with you calls for a few less ingredients (just to accommodate what I had on hand locally). This is one of the best uses of eggplant that I can think of and I really hope you all give this a whirl before eggplants disappear from the farmers market.
I’ll be honest and say that I’m not well versed in Persian cooking, but I’m really looking forward to checking out Niloufer Ichaporia’s cookbook. I know her book is not only a collection of recipes, but a cultural history and beautiful account of the people, and the importance of food among the Parsi community. And because a lot of Parsi cuisine uses ingredients we can find locally–meat, eggs, dairy, garlic, and ginger– I’m also looking forward to incorporating a few international spices from our local spice shop to supplement what we can’t get in our region. Our spice shop here in Hood River (Arome) is a wonderful place to source high quality, fresh, and intentionally sourced international spices.
This is one of those recipes that makes your entire house smell amazing while the spices simmer in a healthy dose of oil. And yes, that’s not a typo with the 1 Tablespoon of cayenne pepper (I know I’ll get asked about that) it’s spicy but not overly spicy with all the other ingredients going on (you can start with 2 teaspoons if you’re nervous) And actually, the chopping required for all the veggies was quite therapeutic. I sipped on a little wine while I got busy and it went rather quickly. The recipe I’m sharing below is not entirely authentic due to what we grow on our farm and what I could find local to me. But I’m so happy I went for it even without having all the ingredients that the original calls for. It also felt good to support our local farmers, spice shop and local oil and vinegar companies. This was fantastic and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do. Try spooning the eggplant pickle on crackers with goat cheese, served with chicken and rice, meatballs and yogurt, or stirred into scrambled eggs. Once you taste it, you’ll know it’s quite versatile and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
Cheers from Tumbleweed Farm
Spicy Eggplant Pickle
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Serves: approximately 2 pint jars
- 1 cup hazelnut oil (or any high heat oil you can find- peanut, canola, grapeseed)
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (local folks you can find these at Arome)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 9 large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (if you're sensitive to heat try 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, no need to peel
- 1 1/4 cups vinegar (apple cider, red wine or white wine vinegar)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2- 2 tablespoons salt (or to taste)
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or deep pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the fenugreek, cumin and fennel seeds. The seeds will begin to sputter, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent burning.
- Add the garlic and ginger to the oil. Stir frequently until they turn golden, about 2 minutes.
- Add the cayenne pepper and turmeric. Give the pot a good stir. Add the chopped eggplant and stir to coat the eggplant in the spice mixture.
- Pour in the vinegar and give the pot another good stir. Cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Give the pot a good stir every once in a while.
- Remove the pot from the heat, add the honey and salt and give the pot another good stir. Leave it at room temperature for about 20 minutes before giving it a taste test. Adjust salt and add more honey if desired.
- Divide the mixture between pint jars and place in the fridge once completely cool. The eggplant pickle is supposed to keep in your fridge for up to 1 year due to all the oil.
Notes*Use this recipe as a guide and adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary