RECIPE TITLE "Baby Eggplants Pickled in Aleppian Brine (Mehalal Banjan)"
recipe excerpted from: Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews Copyright © by Poopa Dweck. All rights reserved.
Makes 12 to 15 pickles (1 ½ gallons) --- easy
The intriguing beauty of the eggplant—from its curvy, pear shape to its shiny, smooth skin—is indisputable. Eggplants come in a variety of sizes (from tiny to large), shapes (from oval to spherical), and colors (deep purple, pale violet, white, or green). They are grown in many places, including the United States, Italy, China, Japan, India, and Thailand. The daintier varieties, such as Japanese eggplants, tend to have a mild flavor and fewer seeds than the typical large variety. For this recipe, it is essential to start off with tiny, firm, farm-fresh eggplants; their calyxes (the leafy crowns) should be bright green. When the pickled eggplants are cut open, they are usually slightly pink at their core.
1 dozen baby eggplants, stems trimmed, leaving leafy crowns intact
2 ribs celery, chopped into 2-inch pieces
4 unpeeled garlic cloves, halved
½ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
½ cup kosher salt
1. Pierce each eggplant with a fork in two places. In a large pot, bring 3 cups water to a boil over high heat. Carefully put the eggplants in the boiling water and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.
2. To make the brine, combine 3 cups water, celery, garlic, vinegar, Aleppo pepper, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Put the eggplants into several jars. Pour the brine over the eggplants, filling each jar to the brim. Cover tightly (see step 2, page 69). The pickles will be ready in 3 to 4 days and will last 2 months in the refrigerator.
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