Brinjal pickle (eggplant relish/ aubergine chutney) is a classic Indian condiment that is the perfect addition to any curry. Slightly sweet and spicy, it's easy to make.
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When I was growing up, the food scene in Edinburgh wasn't that great. There were probably some better expensive places but there wasn't a whole lot of variety that worked for your average family. There were, however, some pretty good Indian restaurants and it's certainly the first cuisine I delved in to.
As a teenager, I tried making a number of dishes myself, from dhal to dessert and curries (like paneer Makhani and Goan fish curry) to roast lamb. Somehow, however, I never made chutney or pickle.
To be honest, it never crossed my mind to try making any of the tasty condiments we got in restaurants or from a jar, other than raita (the yogurt-based dip). When it was announced this week's Sunday Supper theme was harvesting summer, however, it didn't take long to decide to change that and make a favorite from childhood, brinjal pickle - Indian eggplant relish/ aubergine chutney.
It's funny that I didn't ever think to try making Indian condiments myself as I still have really vivid memories of visiting relatives who were Indian as a teen and enjoying some delicious homemade pickles. In fact I can't remember what else we ate that night but I still strongly remember the homemade lime pickle.
Growing eggplants in our garden this year has got me thinking about ideas to use them more, like the marinated eggplant salad I shared last week, and reminded of brinjal pickle which was a favorite as a child.
I think it helped that it wasn't as spicy as most Indian pickles and was a bit sweet too, plus I have always liked eggplant. It became a firm favorite to eat when we had curry. It's not pickle in the way most American's would think of the word, hence here it's often called a relish, and even in the UK it's often called chutney, but whatever you call it, brinjal pickle is certainly tasty.
A healthier take on brinjal pickle
Having looked into how to make it, there seems to be a few variations from different regions, not too surprisingly. I also found many used a lot more oil or sugar (or both) than I would ideally use. So I decided to see if I could make a version that was a little better for you but still with plenty flavor.
It seems it's not really possible to reduce them too much as the eggplant doesn't cook or you don't get the flavor - the only way it might work with less oil is to roast the eggplant but that seemed like more effort than gain.
How to make brinjal pickle
Brinjal pickle is pretty easy to make as all you do is:
- Salt the eggplant then cut into a relatively small dice.
- Toast some whole spices then grind them up.
- Fry the eggplant in oil until soft, adding garlic towards the end.
- Add the ground spices to the eggplant along with a bit of vinegar and sweetener.
The sweetener can vary from being sugar or jaggery as is common in some areas. I opted to use a little palm sugar as it has a nice depth of flavor that goes well (and since jaggery is hard to come by here). You cook it down briefly until the liquid evaporates and the eggplant is soft. Then leave it to cool before serving or storing.
Brinjal pickle makes a delicious accompaniment to any Indian meal, or else try it with other things too - I can imagine using it on top of cheese to perk up a sandwich, for example. It's juicy, filled with your favorite Indian flavors and a great way to use up some eggplant too, if you need another excuse.
Try this alongside these Indian dishes:
- Goan fish curry
- Slow cooker lamb rogan josh
- Paneer Makhani
- Some cilantro mint chutney would also be great with many dishes as well.
- Plus get more Indian recipes in the archives.
Brinjal pickle (Indian eggplant relish/aubergine chutney)
- 14 oz eggplant aubergine, (approx 1 medium)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder (or more, to taste)
- 3 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon palm sugar ground/shaved from block (or approx ½ volume brown sugar)
- Cut the eggplant in to slices and sprinkle over the salt. Leave to sit for around 3-5min until liquid droplets form on top. Meanwhile, lightly toast the mustard and cumin seeds then grind them along with the fenugreek seeds, pepper and chili.
- Warm the oil in a skillet/frying pan and as it warms, wipe the salt off the eggplant slices and pat dry. Cut the slices into a medium-small dice then add them to the pan. Cook, stirring now and then until soft, around 10minutes, adding the crushed garlic after around 5min. Don't worry if they stick now and then, just scrape off as best you can, but don't let them burn.
- Once the eggplant is soft and almost cooked through, add the turmeric, stir so it coats everything and cook for another minute.
- Add the spice mix, vinegar and sugar and mix well so the sugar dissolves. Cook another couple minutes, scraping anything that had stuck to the bottom, until the liquid has basically disappeared. Remove from heat and allow to cool before serving or storing in a jar in the fridge.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
See some more ideas for preserving summer fruit and vegetables:
- Freezer Mixed Berry Puree by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Ginger Fig Jam by Palatable Pastime
- Homemade Giardiniera by Curious Cuisiniere
- Homemade Sriracha by Monica’s Table
- Mediterranean Chutney by Wholistic Woman
- Nectarine Kumquat Habanero Chutney by Food Lust People Love
- Peach Butter by Redhead Baker
- Pear Ginger Jam by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Tomato and Chili Pepper Jam by Delaware Girl Eats
- Oven Roasted Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Homemade Fruit Leather by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Hey Caroline - I was looking for a brinjal pickle recipe and found yours through Google. Just finished it and it is delicious. Many thanks for putting up the recipe - definitely one to print off and keep. And do again! Best regards from the Isle of Mull, Scotland
So glad to hear you enjoyed! (And as a side note, it's been a while since I was in Mull now but I still remember it fondly!)
I am not sure how vegetable oils of any kind could be considered “healthy”, regardless of quantity used (check Google for clarification) but agree with lowering sugar content as a matter of course.
Have made this recipe twice and it worked well. Used double quantities of olive oil as the stated amount left my eggplant too dry, and tried coconut sugar for the first time.
As a tip, I dry roasted batches of mustard and cumin seeds so that they were ready to go, rather than doing one teaspoon at a time.
All in all, a great success - thanks for posting!
Glad to hear you enjoyed! The vegetable oil is more the relative amount - traditionally this would use a lot. And while I use olive oil in a lot of other dishes, it's just not a part of Indian cooking (though obviously you can substitute if you prefer). Glad to hear it worked out well. And yes, you can absolutely batch-roast spices. I just recommend not doing too large an amount, unless you use a lot, and not grinding until you need to help them have the most flavor.
However some questions.
Brinjal soaks up a lot of oil in order to bring out the full flavour so should hot water bathing be applied for longer storage/sealing?
Thank you. So I use a bit less oil than might be typical here so it may not keep as long stored at room temperature. But yes, hot water bathing will help preserve it longer unopened.
Caroline, I've made this twice today but can't get the bitterness out of my pickle-im willing to make a third batch! I live for pickle haha. Apart from that it's an amazing recipe. Any tips on what I'm doing wrong? Maybe I didn't salt them enough or for long enough or under cooked them? I'm not skilled in cooking with eggplant yet.
That's unfortunate - so it can be the eggplant themselves, sometimes if they are less fresh they are more likely to be bitter, if you can try to go for younger/smaller and fresh. Then yes, maybe leave them slightly longer after salting to draw out more bitterness. The other thing is that often the more bitter parts are the seeds and the skin, so you could partly peel the eggplant and try to remove some of the seeds. Hope you have luck on that next time, and glad you enjoyed otherwise!
Re the Nutritional Value, what size serving are we looking at?
So it's on the estimation of having around 10 servings, so 1/10 of the overall quantity. These are, though, just an estimate.
How long will this keep for in a sterilised jar in the fridge?
I have to say ours never gets a chance to last that long! So if you go through proper canning technique, it would keep sealed as long as a tomato sauce, for example, (so a few months) but similarly, once open, it will need to be used more quickly - maybe a week, possibly more but I am not completely sure. This recipe uses less sugar than some which would additionally act as a preservative to keep it open longer.
Thank you Caroline, this pickle tasted wonderful and so authentic. Definitely much better than the Pataks jar we’ve been using. This is probably way healthier version. Amazing!!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I'd imagine it probably is healthier than bought, and glad you preferred the taste, but if nothing else there's something special about making it yourself.
This is really gorgeous, Caroline! I love all the flavours here! 😀
Thanks so much Julianna!
Lovely chutney, thanks for bringing to FF!
Thanks Suzanne, happy FF to you too!
What a fun condiment! Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday!
Thanks Mollie, it's so tasty!
Wow, Caroline this dish looks amazing! Where I grew up we had one small cafe which served American comfort food. We certainly didn't have Indian, Asian, or other cultural dishes but I've sure enjoyed them for several years since moving from that small rural community. Dishes don't have to be difficult to be delectable such as your dish.
Thanks Julie, I agree so many favorite dishes are actually quite easy and this is in that category. And so glad you enjoy trying so many different cuisines now, it's a wonderful thing to learn different styles of food I think.
Cindys Recipes and Writings
This would go great at a tapas party dipping station!
Thanks Cindy, yes I can see it working as a dip too. Hope you give it a try!
I wish our eggplant took this year, this looks amazing!
What a shame, Sarah, but it's a good excuse to buy one 🙂
What a shame, Sarah, but this is a good excuse to buy one 🙂
Julia @ Happy Foods
What an interesting recipe this is! Would have never thought of making relish with aubergines!
Thanks Julie, it's one I grew up with so never really thought about being unusual, but it's certainly really tasty.
The UK has the best Indian food. I'm so intrigued by this recipe and I have a surplus of eggplants in the garden! I'll be trying it this week.
Thanks Monica, hope you enjoy it - how handy to have lots of eggplant!
Tammi @ Momma's Meals
I've been trying to like eggplant but haven't quite found the "right" dish! I bet this has amazing flavor! Thanks for hosting this week.
Thanks Tammi. I can understand eggplant can be a bit tricky to like, but hopefully the tasty flavors in here might help make it a bit easier to like!
What an interesting chutney. I have a couple eggplant lovers in my family -I bet they'd like this!
Thanks Constance, it has great flavors and while it naturally goes with Indian food, I think it would be great with other things too.