The name Parsi means “Persian” or “from Persia”. Parsis are followers of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster, and followed Zoroastrianism – the dominant religion of the Iranian region in the 8th century. They emigrated to India around the 8th – 10th century to avoid religious persecution from Muslim invaders, settling primarily along India’s western coast city of Bombay (now called as Mumbai). The Parsi community also flourished in Bangalore (Karnataka) and in Karachi (Pakistan). They eventually made a name for themselves not only as prominent officials in the British East India Company, but also as savvy businessmen, prolific artists, and charitable givers. Legend has it that when the first Parsis landed in India, the King of Gujrat was reluctant to allow them to stay, saying that he was concerned about his already overpopulated kingdom. The leader of the Parsi group requested for a bowl of milk and sugar, and when presented it, stirred the sugar into the milk, saying they (Parsis) would only make what was already in place sweeter.
Parsi cuisine is a blend of aromatic rice, lentils, meat, potatoes, and vegetables. It blends middle-Eastern style of cooking with the spices of India. Some of their famous dishes include Dhansak (a blend of several varieties of lentils, vegetables and meat cubes), Sali Murghi (chicken with matchstick potatoes), and Patra ni Macchi (banana-leaf wrapped fish). And, which Indian does not know about Faluda?!?! A tall glass of this summertime treat is filled with tapioca, vermicelli, ice cream, jello and cold rose syrup. Yum!!
I came across this eggplant pickle recipe on hungry tigress a few months ago, and made a half-batch. Though it looks like a long list of ingredients and elaborate method, it is actually easy to make. It tastes great with chapati, any rice dish, and even as a sandwich/pita filling. Let me know what you think if you make it. I would love to hear back.
Parsi Eggplant Pickle
(adapted from hungry tigress)
(Makes about 8 cups = approx. 2 spaghetti sauce jars full)
- 1 cup oil
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- 2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
- 6 large garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
- 2-inch ginger (minced)
- 1/2 cup fresh green chillies (slit)
- 2 Tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 1/2 lbs eggplant of choice
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar (OR) jaggery
- 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp salt ( or to taste)
1) Wash and dry the eggplants. Cube into 1-inch pieces, leaving the skin intact.
2) Measure out all the other ingredients and have them ready.
3) In a wide cooking pot, heat the oil on medium high till very hot, but not smoking.
4) Slightly reduce the heat, and drop in the fenugreek, cumin and fennel seeds one after the other. Let them sizzle for about 30 seconds, but make sure they stay light golden brown, not dark brown.
5) Next, add the ginger & garlic and saute till light golden.
6) Turn up the heat again for a few seconds, and then add the slit green chillies. Hold a plate between you & the bowl so the popping chilies do not splatter onto your face. Let the chilies sizzle till they turn whitish-gray.
7) Add the chili powder & turmeric and saute till aromatic, about 20 seconds.
8) Drop in the eggplant, vinegar & sugar; mix well and bring it to a boil on high.
9) Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30-45 minutes (uncovered).
10) As with any Indian pickle, cook till the oil floats on top, signaling that the pickles are done.
11) Cool and bottle***. Can be refrigerated up to a year, if oil^^^ covers the top of the eggplants.
*** Make sure that the glass bottles and lids you use are completely clean and completely dry***.
^^^ If you don’t plan on keeping this for long, you could probably reduce the oil by a third and still have a delicious condiment. Please leave me a comment and let me if you do try it. Thanks.^^^