This eggplant chutney literally took years perfect, but is universally popular. Sweet but piquant, it complements curries, cheeses, pastries and just about anything.
(Makes about 2.5 litres)
- 2 large eggplants, about 500g each
- 4 tsp salt
- ¼ cup tamarind concentrate*
- 1 cup oil
- ¼ cup mustard seed (I use yellow)
- 100g crushed garlic (can use processed to save time)
- 100g minced ginger (can use processed to save time)
- 2 Tbsp fenugreek seed
- 2 Tbsp coriander seed
- 2 Tbsp cumin seed
- 1 Tbsp chilli powder
- 3 x 410g tins peeled tomatoes in juice, chopped
- 1 cup malt vinegar
- 1 kg sugar
*Take 125g from a block of tamarind pulp, available from any Asian food store. Break it up and soak in one cup of hot water for 15 minutes, breaking it up further as it soaks. Push it through a sieve and discard leftover fibre and seeds. Measure out the amount required and freeze the excess for future use. An acceptable substitute to making your own concentrate is tamarind paste, available from Asian outlets (especially the Pantainorasingh brand).
Slice the unpeeled eggplant into small (¼ inch -5mm) dice. Place in a colander, sprinkled evenly or tossed with the salt. Set aside over a sink or bowl to drain for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the remaining ingredients.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pot or jam pan, over a medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and heat until they start to pop. Remove from the heat and stir in the fenugreek, coriander and cumin seeds followed by the garlic, ginger and chilli powder. Return to a lowered heat and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Stir in the salted and drained eggplant without rinsing or patting dry - just shake the colander before adding the eggplant, then sauté for 3-4 minutes.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes with juice, ¼ cup of tamarind pulp, vinegar and the sugar.
Simmer the mixture, uncovered, for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally. Oil should rise to the surface after about an hour, and further cooking produces a medium-thick chutney, reduced to almost half the original volume.
Bottle in hot, sterilised jars with hot, sterilised screw on lids.