In India, an egg-shaped fruit of a light green color streaked in purple — a variety of eggplant called ‘Udumalbet’ — is very popular and is used in chutneys and curries.
India has so many local varieties of eggplant that it would require a whole library to list and describe them. In fact, the variety ‘Udumalbet’ is named after a very old summer resort town in the highlands of Southern India, meaning that seeds had already traveled for hundreds of years from the northern region of Rajasthan down south.
LEARN HOW THE GYPSIES DISTRIBUTED THIS VEGETABLE ACROSS CONTINENTS IN THE TRAVELS OF THE EGGPLANT.
• 2 pounds small, firm ‘Uudmalbet’ eggplant
• 1 cup cold-pressed sesame oil
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 1 one-inch piece of ginger
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 tablespoon red chile powder
• 4 bay leaves
• 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
• 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
• 1 cup liquid honey
• 2 tablespoons salt
1. Cut the eggplants in 1/2-inch cubes and fry in oil until the color changes to light brown. Set aside in a dish and sprinkle with salt.
2. Thinly slice the garlic and the ginger in a skillet coated with a very thin layer of oil and toast for 3 minutes adding the turmeric, the red chile powder, and the bay leaves. Set aside.
3. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry skillet over low heat. Put the toasted seeds and the remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat and then add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the mixture of garlic, ginger, and other spices.
4. Pour the mixture on the eggplants. Then pour the honey and mix.
5. Transfer the mixture into jars and wait one month before opening. If sealed, it can be stored up to one year.
Richard Bernard grew up in France and his life with seeds has taken him to many places around the world. Richard lives with his wife Celine in Santa Fe, where he helps local seed saving initiatives and manages the farmers’ market for the Pueblo of Pojoaque.