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.
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
- Plus get more Indian recipes in the archives.
Brinjal pickle (Indian eggplant relish/aubergine chutney)
- 14 oz eggplant 400g aubergine, (approx) 1 medium
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp chili powder (or more, to taste)
- 3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp palm sugar ground/shaved from block (or approx 1tbsp 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
- Pickled Asian Vegetables by A Mind Full Mom
- Homemade Fruit Leather by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures