Brinjal or Wambatu Moju or Sri Lankan Eggplant Relish was one of my very favourite accompaniments for curry when I visited Sri Lanka last year. Eggplant is cooked down until sticky sweet and delicious and this is one of most delicious ways to eat eggplant. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader if you love curries!
In Sri Lanka, if you ordered curry and rice it would come with 7 bowls each with something different. There might be onion sambol or coconut sambol, a dahl, a fish or a chicken curry and this eggplant pickle or Brinjal Moju. This Brinjal (Sri Lankan for eggplant) moju was always the thing I looked forward to most.
Lately, I'm finding that my palate is just dying to travel even if my body can't so I keep making foods from the countries that I wish I could visit.
I got this recipe from Camellia Hills, a stunning hotel high up in the tea country of Sri Lanka. They were kind enough to give me a cookbook of recipes that include my other favourite beetroot curry. While it is called Eggplant Pickle it isn't really pickled at all and less vinegary.
Tips for cooking with eggplant and making the best brinjal moju:
1 - Eggplant needs salt for flavour. Like tomatoes and potatoes, eggplant comes to life with salt, especially in this dish.
2 - Half a kilo of eggplant cooks down a lot and makes one 400ml/14oz. jar.
3 - Slender Japanese eggplants are ideal for this Brinjal Moju.
4 - Take the time to cook the eggplant down and don't rush it. BUT if you don't have a lot of time you can deep fry the eggplant slices.
5 - Which is where I come to the bad news: this brinjal moju does use up a lot of oil. But you just need a little bit of this as it has so much flavour.
I'm getting into creating more Sri Lankan dishes and I feel a bit more confident doing these after my visit to Sri Lanka last year. It's always a bit easier knowing what the food that you're making is supposed to taste like and it definitely helps when trying to recreate it in a recipe. I love being out of my comfort zone and trying new cuisines.
Someone else that was recently out of his comfort zone was Mr NQN. We were on a weekend away and he was being a good Instagram husband. We had just gotten into our accommodation and had only 20 minutes of light to get a shot in the bathtub. He took some pics and I saw that my face was a bit shiny from being outside.
"Can you grab my face powder and powder my face?" I asked him pointing at my make up bag. He looked horrified, as if I asked him to perform brain surgery on live television. "Errrr ok," he said guardedly.
He dipped the brush in and swirled it around and then applied it to my face. "I don't know if you'll be happy with this," he said. We quickly finished taking the pictures as the light rapidly faded and then we rushed to join everyone for socially distanced drinks.
After drinks we retreated back to our cottage for dinner. I stared in the mirror. "Arrrrgh!!!" I let out a strangled cry from the bathroom. In my haste to avoid being tardy for drinks I had not even checked my face. He had caked on such a thick layer of powder that the best description I had of my face was Michael Jackson or Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. My face was covered with face powder and it was thick and cakey. If you've ever used banana powder you'll know that a thick layer of this isn't good. I now realise why people were looking at me oddly, as though I had perhaps escaped from a facility! "I told you...." Mr NQN said from the other room.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you like going out of your comfort zone? Have you ever tried Sri Lankan eggplant relish?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Sri Lankan Pickled Eggplant Brinjal Moju
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 5 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
- 1 cup/250ml/8.8flozs oil
- 500g/1.1lbs Japanese eggplant (around 7)
- 150g/5ozs. red onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
- 5cm/2inch piece ginger, peeled and finely diced
- 20 curry leaves
- 1 chilli, sliced
- 3 tablespoons/60ml white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)
- 3 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Black Pepper
Step 1 - Cut the stems from the eggplants and slice in half lengthways and then cut into half moons. Add oil to a saucepan or pot and fry the eggplant in 2-3 batches. How much oil depends on how you want to fry it. I was shown to deep fry the eggplant but you can also shallow fry it. You want it to be soft and sticky and browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Step 2 - Add the onion and sauté until caramelised. Add the garlic, ginger, curry leaves and chilli and sauté for a minute. Add the eggplant back in and add the vinegar, sugar, turmeric and mustard seeds. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sauté for another 20 minutes until sweet, sticky and salty.