In Italy, eggplants are seen as jewish plants. Having arrived from China and India, eggplant has found its home first on Sicily. Around 1492, the Jews who lived in the Spanish parts of South Italy were banished, so eggplant probably came to North Italy that way, and later to other parts of Europe. But the Italian word for eggplant melanzana (mela insana = unhealthy apple, or apple that causes madness) comes not from the jewish history of this plant, but from the bitter principles that eggplants contain in their raw condition, therefore I suggest eating eggplants either cooked or roasted.
I have to tell you that I’m not the greatest fan of eggplants. My mother doesn’t like eggplants, so I never really had an opportunity to learn how to like them. Over the years I discovered only one way my discerning palate reacts positive to eggplants: halved and roasted in the oven. Then I spoon “the soft flesh” out, drizzle them with lot of olive oil, greek yoghurt and some lemon juice. Just like I did it for my bruschetta recipe, I almost did it for this recipe.
This recipe is so delicious that I seriously recommend you to make it ASAP (as soon as possible)! In this time of the year you can find a surplus of ripe regional tomatoes, fresh eggplants and onions and there is no better way to use it than to make this exquisite chutney. Ok, you will ask now, what is exquisite about tomato-eggplant-onions chutney? Well, the spices mixture. Coriander (cilantro) seeds, cumin, cayenne pepper, chili flakes – this combination perfectly rounds this vegetable trio and makes this chutney suitable as a side dish for various meals.
You can also make a bigger amount if you want to preserve it for next months. In that case be sure that you have sterilized glasses properly. You don’t know how?
How to sterilize jars (and bottles)?
1. Buy or collect high quality jars (and bottles) – that means the glasses shouldn’t be damaged or rusted, so that micro-organisms don’t have space to collect themselves in the cracks. And the jars shouldn’t be too thin, so that they don’t split in high temperature. Pay attention that the tops of the jars are not distorted or crumpled, otherwise you won’t be able to densely close the jars.
2. First wash all jars in hot soapy water and rinse them properly out. Spread the rinsed jars over the backing tray and put them in the oven. Turn the oven on on 110 C. After the oven has reached this temperature, leave the jars for 10 min. draining in the oven completely. Remove the jars from the oven.
3. In a larger pot bring 2 l water to boil. Put the tops of jars into boiling water and leave them inside for 5 min. Drain the tops using a clean kitchen paper. Bevor using the tops, they should be completely dry.
If you want to storage chutney (or other sauces, jams, vegetables etc.) for several months after you have filled and properly closed the sterilized jars and, you should preserve it in a hot water, in order to pull out the oxygen from the jars content (this way all micro-organism will not be able to survive inside of jars). And here is how:
1. Take a larger pot (the bigger the better) and put it on the stove. Cover its bottom (from the inside) with a clean dish towel. Spread the filled and closed jars vertical over it. The jars should not get in touch with the rim of the pot.
2. Fill the pot with warm water (as warm as the jars are) so that the jars are covered with water for approximately 3/4. On the medium stove temperature bring the water to boil. Preserve the jars for around 10-15 min. Bigger jars with more than 500 ml need around 20min.
3. The tops of jars are bulged now. Carefully remove the jars from the water and leave them staying on the work surface overnight. The next day the tops should bulge on the inside again. If you are in doubt with some jars, storage them/it in the refrigerator and use them within 7 days- just to be on the safe side!
Ingredients (makes 2 jars à 500 ml):
500 g ripe tomatoes, chopped into 2 cm cubes
2 large eggplants, halved, roasted and spooned
500 g onions, finely sliced
2 Tsp ghee or butter
2 Tsp sucanat, refined brown sugar, or coconut sugar
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
150 ml red wine vinegar
1 Tsp coriander (cilantro) seeds
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1/2 Tsp black pepper seeds
1/2 Tsp cayenne pepper (powder)
2 Tsp fine sea salt
1/3 Tsp chili flakes (if desired)
1. Put the chopped tomatoes into a sieve and put the sieve on a similar-sized bowl or pot. Salt tomatoes with 1 TL salt and leave them draw for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile prepare eggplants. Halve them and spread the eggplant halves over with a backing paper covered backing tray. Put the eggplants into the oven (220 C) and roast them until very soft (about 30 min.) Remove the eggplants from the oven, let cool for 10 min., spoon “the eggplant flesh” out of the hard skin and collect it into a medium sized bowl.
3. Using a spice-grinder or mortar crush the coriander seeds, cumin and black pepper into a fine powder and combine it with other spices.
4. In a large-sized pot heat the ghee or butter and add the spices mixture. Stir and fry until fragrant (around 2 min.) Add finely sliced onions, stir once more and fry until onions are very soft, but not brown.
5. Add tomatoes, eggplant-flesh and garlic and stir well.Reduce the temperature on medium and cook everything for 15 min.- until ingredients are soften. Add sucanat (or refindes-brown sugar, or coconut sugar) and vinegar, and stir until incorporated. Cook the mixture on medium-low heat (without the top!) for 1 hour until it reached a chutney- consistence (thickened).
6. If you don’t want to perverse this chutney, remove it from the heat and let cool. Spread the chutney into two jars, close it properly and storage in refrigerator for next 7 days.
7. If you want to preserve this chutney, sterilize the jars and while they are still hot fill them with warm chutney. Close the jars properly and preserve them like above described.