Srilankan Brinjal Pickle
Wambatu moju is a very popular Srilankan pickle or relish made with brinjals. It is a must on all festive occasions and you can find it in the menus of all hotels in Srilanka. I, as usual, came across this in the Srilankan airlines flight 🙂 .
I have been wanting to try this out for a long time. But I never got those long brinjals which are generally used to make this. When I got the brinjals small onions were not available, still managed with the ones I had.
As such its a very simple recipe which you can whip up in minutes if you have all the ingredients on hand. The tanginess from the vinegar is balanced by the heat from the chillies, the salt, and the sugar. A perfect balance of all of these is what gives a tasty moju.
The chillies and onions are fried for a few minutes only in a way that they do not lose their crunch. You can add a good amount of onions and adjust the chillies also as per preference. Mine were non-spicy ones so I have added a bit of chilly powder too.
The most preferred vinegar is coconut vinegar which is very mild. But if you cannot source it then you can add apple cider or white vinegar. Just that you may have to reduce the amount of vinegar, as these are more pungent. So, add accordingly.
Similarily with sugar. I have added very little, as the prepared quantity is also less. Add as much as needed to balance the tartness. Some people also prefer to add curry powder, but I have not added it here.
This is the vegetarian and the most popular version of Wambatu moju. But if you like to have that umami flavor and do not mind some dry fish you can also add some dry Maldives fish powder too.
Methi or fenugreek seeds is generally not added. But I have given our Tamil touch 😀 , as the mustard-methi combo is what gives our pickles the unique ‘pickly’ flavor. You can omit methi if you don’t prefer.
I have preferred to dry fry the curry leaves and powder it, as it enhances the flavor when pounded with the mustard-methi-hing combination. You can use it as fresh leaves too.
Also, I came across a few videos, where they skip the sauteeing part. The vinegar is just mixed with the remaining ingredients given under ‘to temper’ and the fried veggies are added to it.
This is mixed with the hand to completely infuse the flavor. But I stuck with this method.
The best part was that hubby too who does not like brinjals liked this one. But the fact remains that it was I who finished most of it as I couldn’t just stop myself 😀 .
It stays good at room temperature for quite some days coz of the vinegar. One week should be fine and after that move to the refrigerator. Another pickle without preservatives 🙂 .
Over to the recipe…
Wambatu moju / moju
To deep fry
- 4 long-sized purple brinjals (150g )
- a handful of pearl onions/shallots(25 g)
- 5-6 nos green chillies
- oil for deep frying as needed
To roast and powder
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- a pinch methi / fenugreek seeds
- a few curry leaves
- a pinch hing/ asafoetida
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1" piece ginger
- 3 tbsp coconut vinegar
- ½ tsp chilly powder (or as needed)
- ½ tsp sugar (or as needed)
- salt as needed
- a pinch of turmeric powder
- Wash the brinjals, cut them into longitudinal 2" strips, and keep them immersed in water. Peel the onions and slit the green chillies. Crush the ginger and garlic and keep them aside.
- Heat up oil in a frying pan and fry the brinjals in batches till they become golden brown.
- Next fry the onions and chillies. Drain all of these in a paper towel.
- Dry fry the items given under 'to roast and powder'. Powder them coarsely with the hing in a motor and pestle.
- In an earthenware pot, heat up 1 tbsp of oil and fry the crushed ginger and garlic. Add the sugar, salt, chilly powder, and turmeric and give it a mix. Then add the vinegar and mix well.
- Taste test and add the fried brinjals, onion, and green chillies. Saute to coat the mix onto the vegetables. Turn off flame when it dries up completely.
- Serve with rice, hoppers or flatbreads. It tastes best from the next day.
- The brinjals are kept immersed in water after cutting so that they do not turn dark.
- The addition of spices, sugar, and salt is completely up to personal preference. Just see that all the tastes are well-balanced.
- The vegetables are always deep-fried. While the brinjals take some time, the onions and chillies are just fried for a few minutes.
- If you do not get shallots, use the regular big ones chopped into medium-sized pieces.
You may be interested in my other pickle recipes which are also preservative-free