The brinjal pickle is a beautiful condiment, even on a piece of toasted sourdough. It is used all across the subcontinent, and is loved for its flavour, texture and colour.
Cut the eggplants, chillies and shallots into 3 cm (1¼ inch) chunks or pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the turmeric, stirring well to thoroughly coat.
Pour about 5 cm (2 inches) of vegetable oil into a heavy-based saucepan and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds.
Working in batches, add the turmeric-coated vegetables to the hot oil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Strain the excess oil into a heatproof container, leave to cool, then chill in the fridge to use in other recipes, as a flavoured oil.
Heat the ghee in a clean heavy-based saucepan and fry off the curry leaves and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds pop, being careful not to burn the mustard seeds.
Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute or two, until fragrant. Stir in the cumin and fry briefly, then add the sugar, vinegar and salt, cooking for about 3 minutes, until the sugar breaks down.
Stir the mixture through the vegetables until well combined. Leave to cool, then spoon into a sterilised jar.
The pickle is best left to steep overnight before using, and will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.
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