Pickled Eggplant or Aubergine, also known as ‘Achar Brinjel’ in Mauritian cuisine, is one of the best ways to eat eggplant. Sliced eggplant, salted then blanched, mixed with warming spices—like turmeric and fenugreek—and stored under oil. This eggplant pickle recipe is inspired from the Mauritian style pickle with my own take on the method and spices.
One of my favourite ways of eating aubergine or eggplant is pickled. I often buy the Italian style pickled eggplant in jars; they are great served as condiments with any meals or to add flavour to sandwiches and wraps.
It never really crossed my mind to make my own eggplant pickle at home until I received a heaps load of eggplant from my recent online grocery order. Somehow, they always manage to mix up the quantity from what’s indicated online—mistaking one unit for one kilo, and so on. So, I ended up with a big bunch of Chinese eggplants. I already had a couple more left in the fridge as well. So, this was way more than I could cook up meals with, not that I’m not fond of eggplants—this blog serves proof with the number of eggplant recipes that I’ve shared so far.
Roasted Eggplant Steaks & Veggie Mince Sauce
Vegan Tikka Masala Curry with Eggplant, Red Kidney Beans and Courgette (Zucchini)
Smoky Tempeh Crustless Quiche with Eggplant ‘Crust’
Eggplant Fritters | Gluten-free + Vegan
My Best Veggie Burger (does not fall apart) with Brown Chickpeas & Eggplant
Mauritian Dal (Yellow Split Pea Soup) with Eggplant | Dholl et Bringelle
and many more…
Spiced Eggplant Pickle Recipe
Mauritian-inspired Pickled Eggplant
The recipe is really quite easy but does recipe some time ahead for soaking and at least 24 hours pickling time for best flavour before consuming.
What variety of eggplant to use?
I’ve used the Chinese eggplant, they are more tender. The globe variety, which is more commonly available in grocery stores in Canada, is a good choice too for this recipe.
To peel or not to peel eggplant?
Many recipes instruct for the eggplant to be peeled, but I personally find this unnecessary as eggplant skin is usually very tender. If you do prefer, you may peel the eggplant though.
How to make Spiced Pickled Eggplant
The eggplant is first sliced into julienne strips of about ½-cm (¼-inch) thick.
After cutting, the eggplant is placed in a large bowl and then sprinkled with sea salt. A gentle massage helps to distribute the salt evenly. The eggplant is then left to soak for 2-8 hours.
Once soaked, the excess liquid is squeezed out. This is more easily done by placing the eggplant in a cheesecloth or tea towel, then wring and squeeze to remove all excess liquid.
Then the eggplant is blanched in a water and vinegar solution for 7-10 minutes, or until tender. Take extra care not to let the eggplant go mushy. The Chinese eggplant variety is more tender, so they might require less time. Taste one for doneness; it should still have a little bite to it.
Drain the eggplant and again squeeze out the excess liquid, then set aside while you prepare the spices.
Fresh minced ginger root, fenugreek, turmeric and black pepper are lightly roasted in about 2 tablespoons of oil for 2-3 minutes, on gentle heat, taking care not to let the turmeric burn, otherwise it will taste bitter.
A little coconut sugar can be added to bring in a hint of sweetness.
The roasted spices are then added to the eggplant and mixed well.
Spoon the eggplant into sterilised jars leaving about 1 cm or ½ inch of space at the top. Then, top with olive oil to completely submerge the eggplant.
Leave to marinate for at least 24 hours before consuming. I keep this pickled eggplant refrigerated as I do not do any canning process to make it shelf stable. Always use a clean utensil to serve and it should last for a couple months or more.
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- 600 g Chinese eggplants* (see notes), about 4-5 eggplants of 20-25 cm (8-9 inches)
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 750 ml (about 3 cups) water
- 200 ml (about 3/4 cup) pickling or white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 thumb size ginger root, minced or finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar, optional
- olive oil (enough to completely cover the eggplant)
Slice the eggplant into ½-cm thick julienne pieces.
Once cut, place the eggplant pieces in a bowl and toss with the salt. It’s best to mix the salt by hand while lightly massaging the eggplant for even distribution. Cover the bowl and let sit for 2-8 hours.
After 2-8 hours, drain the liquid (but do not rinse the eggplant). Place the eggplant, a portion at a time, in a cheesecloth or clean tea towel. Wring and squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible.
In a big pot, bring to a boil the water and vinegar, add the eggplant and boil for about 6-10 minutes or until tender but still with a slight bite to them. Take care not to let the eggplant go mushy. Taste one to make sure it is tender.
Drain the eggplant and again lightly squeeze out excess moisture. Place the eggplant in a large bowl and set aside.
In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium temperature.
Add the minced ginger and sauté for a minute. Then, add the turmeric powder, fenugreek and sugar (if using). Roast for 2-3 minutes on gentle-medium heat, taking care not to let the spices burn. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Add the roasted spices to the eggplant and mix well. Spoon into sterilised jars, leaving at least 1 cm or 1/2 inch of space, then top with oil. Make sure that the eggplant is completely covered with oil before closing the jar.
Let sit at least 24 hours before serving. After 24 hours, refrigerate and always use a clean utensil for serving.
*Other eggplant varieties like globe eggplant are also good.
This recipe does not involve any canning process, hence it is best to keep the eggplant refrigerated. It will last a couple of months but make sure to always use a clean utensil to serve.