I’ve been searching for the perfect eggplant chutney for years, and I think I’ve finally found it. Aditya is a good friend of mine who I worked with at Gymkhana, one of London’s best Indian restaurants. Following a few months of persuasion, he finally gave me his family recipe, which comes all the way from a remote hillside village in Karnataka.
NOTES: A canning thermometer is useful for checking the oil temperature. As tamarind paste varies from brand to brand, add it gradually until it tastes good to you.
Makes a large jar (around 32 ounces)
12/3 pounds baby round eggplants
canola or sunflower oil
3 teaspoons nigella seeds
25 fresh curry leaves
10 Indian green chiles, sliced into thirds at an angle
¾ cup tamarind paste
1¼ teaspoons salt
Take the tops off the eggplants, then quarter them. Place a frying pan on one of the back burners of the stove, pour in 1¾ inches of oil, and heat over medium flame. Get a plate ready with some paper towels on it.
When the oil reaches 350°F, lower in a small batch of the eggplants and fry for 2 to 4 minutes, until they develop a light golden color, then remove and place on the plate. Repeat in small batches until you’ve fried all the eggplants.
Put 6 tablespoons of oil into a frying pan over medium heat and, when hot, add the nigella seeds and curry leaves. When the leaves crackle, add the green chiles. Stir-fry for a minute, then add the tamarind paste along with ¾ cup of water. Cook the paste until the water evaporates and the paste is quite thick, then add the salt and the fried eggplants. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes, and take off the heat.
When the chutney has cooled, transfer to a scrupulously clean jar and refrigerate. It will keep for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge.