Eggplant (brinjal) sambola was a dish I first tasted when I was in college, lived in the girls hostel, and ate at the cafeteria. Needless to say, there was much to be desired in the meals we were served. Many of us brought different types if Indian pickles, sambola and other preserves which we shared with each other during our meals. It helped the food go down! This reminds me of the song, “Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.” But, it wasn’t that bad!
Sambola is often made with lemon, chilli, tomato, onion, and fish. My friends from Sri Lanka introduced me to eggplant sambola. Here is my version of this delightfully sweet, sour, and spicy dish.
5 medium eggplants
2 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons turmeric
¾ cup oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 cup diced onions
6 garlic cloves
1 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
½ cup vinegar
2 ½ teaspoons coriander powder
2 teaspoons chilli powder
3 teaspoons cumin powder
2 1-inch pieces of cinnamon
4 green chillies, sliced
½ cup tamarind
1 cup hot water
2 teaspoons sugar
Cut eggplants into thin slices and rub salt and turmeric on them. Set aside for 30 minutes. Drain liquid and dry eggplant slices with paper towel.
Heat oil and fry eggplant slices over medium heat till brown. It takes about one minute per side.
In a blender add mustard seeds, onion, garlic, ginger, and vinegar, and blend to a smooth puree. Soak tamarind in hot water for about 15 minutes. Strain and keep the extract.
Heat about three tablespoons of the same oil used for frying eggplant slices. Add mustard, onion, garlic, ginger, and vinegar puree and fry until it turns light brown. Add coriander, chilli,and cumin powder. Fry for a minute. Then add cinnamon, green chillies, tamarind liquid, and sugar. Finally add the fried eggplant and simmer for eight minutes.