Brinjal Moju

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This fried eggplant pickle was the dish that first sparked my love for Sri Lankan cuisine. The first time I tasted brinjal moju was at a roadside eatery in the remote village of Mankada. It was unlike anything I had ever eaten: the subtle tanginess from the coconut vinegar and the slight sweetness from the sugar and fried eggplant worked brilliantly together. This is the recipe Manike shared with me.

Ingredients

  • 6 long, thin light purple eggplants (brinjal)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, plus ½ teaspoon extra
  • salt
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) coconut oil*, for deep-frying
  • 6 small pink Asian shallots*, thinly sliced
  • 3 thin green chillies*, cut into thirds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, ground using a mortar and pestle
  • 1 clove garlic, ground into a paste
  • 1 teaspoon unroasted chilli powder*
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar* (or rice vinegar)
  • 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) coconut cream*

Method

Slice the eggplants in half and then into quarters lengthways. Place the eggplants in a bowl with the turmeric and 1 teaspoon salt; toss to coat well. Add the curry leaves and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a small wok to approximately 160°C (315°F) (a cube of bread dropped into the oil will brown in 30 seconds). Mix the shallots with a pinch of salt, then deep-fry the shallots for 3 minutes, or until dark golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Deep-fry the chillies for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Deep-fry the eggplant and curry leaves in two batches for 3—4 minutes, or until golden brown, being careful not to overcook them. Remove and drain on paper towel.

In a heavy-based saucepan or clay pot, combine the fried eggplants, shallots and chillies. Add the ground mustard seeds, garlic paste, chilli powder, extra turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, coconut vinegar and coconut cream. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the coconut cream has evaporated. Serve with a main curry and rice.

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