That Eggplant Kasundi

Many many moons ago, when God was a boy and his culinary sidekick Al Brown opened Depot Eggplant Kasundi came into my life and I have been in love ever since. If you get a chance while you are in Auckland, you really must head to Depot and try everything on the menu. It is a joy.

At Vineyard Cottages we use the Kasundi with everything but especially lamb and it goes down an absolute treat with our guests joining us for A Place at our Table. You can mix it with yogurt as a marinade or add it sandwiches for texture and taste. Trust me, once you’ve made it, you’ll make it again and again and while the recipe is a bit of a handful to get your head around, it’s actually a doddle once you’ve done it once.

Eggplant Kasundi

Makes 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz)

1⅓ cups (330 ml/114 fl oz) canola oil

1½ cups (235 g/8½ oz) finely diced onion

½ cup finely diced ginger, plus ½ cup roughly chopped ginger ¼ cup finely diced garlic, plus ½ cup roughly chopped garlic 6 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

2 tablespoons ground turmeric

1 cup (250 ml/9 fl oz) malt vinegar

1¾ cups (385 g/13½ oz) sugar

2 tablespoons salt

1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) eggplant, cut into 1 cm (½ in) dice

85 g (3 oz) chillies, roughly chopped

Place a medium-large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ⅓ cup (80 ml/2½ fl oz) of the oil and the onion. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is soft, then add the finely diced ginger and garlic. Cook down, stirring occasionally, until golden.

In a frying pan, dry roast 3 tablespoons of the cumin seeds, and the fenugreek and mustard seeds. Grind and set aside.

Next, place the roughly chopped ginger, garlic, turmeric and remaining 3 tablespoons of whole cumin seeds, along with a splash of the vinegar, into a food processor and blitz to a paste. Set aside.

Once the diced onion, ginger and garlic are golden, add the dry-roasted ground spices, along with the wet spice paste. Cook out over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.

Now add the remaining vinegar, the sugar and the salt, and mix through to combine.

Add the eggplant and chillies and cook down, stirring occasionally, and adding the remaining 1 cup (250 ml/9 fl oz) of oil as you go. (You may not need all of the oil.) The cooking down should take about 40 minutes. The kasundi is ready when it has a soft, jam-like consistency.

Remove from the heat and let cool before refrigerating until required, or preserve in hot sterilised jars.

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