Wambatu moju also known as Sri Lankan eggplant pickle or ‘Batu moju’ as the Sri Lankans would call it is an eggplant pickle that is sweet, sour and with a hint of chilli. This dish is most commonly used in festive menus and also the famous lamprais.
If you ask me, what my favourite vegetable is? Eggplant will definitely be on the top of the list. This vegetable itself, if treated well, can be so delicious and versatile. For me cooking Sri Lankan food is a very free-flow style of cooking. No one wrote a recipe book on how to cook Sri Lankan food the traditional way, so whatever recipe that everyone follows are the way they have learnt through their mothers, grandmothers through generations, so everyone has a different way of making eggplant moju.
For me, I make the wambatu moju a bit saucier than many other recipes out there, after all, I trained and lived in France and I can assure you, “the sauce” is everything in France!!!! I love the eggplants to be soaked and smothered in the sweet and sour pickle sauce, you can just eat that gravy just by itself!!! believe me its addictive 🙂
Are eggplant moju and eggplant pahi the same dish?
No, it’s not, But most of the Sri Lankans also use the same name for both dishes
What’s the difference between wambatu moju and wambatu pahi
Wambatu moju directly refers to pickle, so it’s an acid-based Garvy whereas wambatu pahi is more like a curry that uses coconut milk
As I said before, for me Sri Lankan cuisine is very free-flowing, wambatu moju is traditionally made with whole small red onions ( we would also call this shallots) but in Australia, we cannot easily find small red onions, so I use whole red onion and I cut them into small cubes. The small red onion also known as shallots are not strong, they are sweet and delicious, so if you can find them, please use them.
I also use a mixture of tamarind & vinegar instead of pure vinegar to get that sourness in the dish. In Sri Lanka, vinegar is quite different from the white vinegar we have here, I believe it’s stronger and sweeter. I love the sweet and sourness that the tamarind gives the dish, so I use tamarind to enhance the sour taste.
What Brinjal/ Eggplant to use for wambatu moju
Now if you take eggplant in all countries, it all taste different, here in Australia we have the Globe (American) eggplant which is what I have used in my recipe below. ( fat eggplant), Japanese eggplants ( the skinny eggplant) or Italian eggplant. Honestly, I don’t believe using one particular eggplant will make the dish better, after all its the sauce that really shines in this dish. So you can use any eggplant as you wish. But eggplants have a bitter taste, that’s where every eggplant is different, but to eliminate that taste, it is very important to mix it with salt and turmeric, for that bitterness to evaporate from the vegetable.
Please do not use the Thai eggplant as that is a different type of eggplant.
What can I use instead of tamarind
You can definitely use white vinegar or even the Sri Lankan vinegar. It’s all about the balance of sweet, salty and sourness, so always taste and if you feel like, it’s not well balanced then add more vinegar little by little
How to get the flavour balance just right?
Wambatu moju is one of my favourite dishes, yet I also refer to my own recipe because getting that balance of sweet, sour and saltiness is very tricky. So follow the recipe, but also use your taste buds to adjust the quantities if needed, because after all, every ingredient in every country will differ.
How long to fry the brinjal/ Eggplant?
Eggplant needs to be cooked through, frying the eggplant is the only step that the eggplant gets cooked, it will be crispy in the beginning but after some time it will get soggy and don’t worry about it, once it is mixed with the sauce it will definitely get soggy. The goal here is not to get it crispy but to make sure its cooked, but not burnt.
If you are anything like me, I snack on the fried eggplants to make sure they are cooked 🙂
How long to fry the shallots and chilli
It’s just a small flash fry, you only need to cook until it is par fried
How to store wambatu moju
Wambatu moju can be stored in a container in the fridge. I don’t recommend storing this particular recipe at room temperature, as this version is more saucier and everyone lives in a different country, so humidity and temperature may differ.
How long can you store wambatu moju?
You can store it for up to 2 weeks, this is made with a lot of acidities, which helps with the shelf life.
How long in advance should I make wambatu moju
Ok so as any pickle, it gets better with time, I like to make mine one day before because it tastes so much better the next day. But I also cook it on the same day and eat it, it tastes delicious either way.
How to reheat wambatu moju
Microwave it for 1 minute or until reheated through, it doesn’t need to be piping hot to eat wambatu moju
How to cut eggplant for wambatu moju
Please don’t cut the eggplant thinly, you want to have a good bite when eating it, it’s not a salad. Leave them chunky and cut into batons, I have shown how to cut them in my video.
You can also check out my other Sri Lankan food
Watch how to make wambatu moju
Step by Step recipe how to make wambatu moju
Wambatu Moju- Eggplant/Brinjal Pickle
- 400 g Egg plant (globe) 1 big eggplant
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 3 Green chilli slit in the middle or cut into 2
- 8 shallots ( small red onion) or 1 large red onion cut into big chunks
- 1 1/2 tbsp Mustard seeds
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste ( 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 inch of ginger grinded together)
- 1 tbsp Chilli powder unroasted
- 3 tbsp White sugar Caster sugar
- 1/4 cup Tamarind juice (8 tamarind seeds +1/4 cup water)
- Cut the eggplant into thick batons, Place the eggplant on a strainer, season it with salt and turmeric and leave aside for 30 minutes, until water comes out of the eggplant
- Peel the shallots, slit the green chillies in the middle or cut them in an angle lengthwise
- Grind the mustard seeds in a mortar pestle until it resembles mustard powder, add vinegar and salt and leave aside for 30 minutes. Leaving this for 30 minutes will ensure the bitterness of the mustard seeds is evaporated
- Heat a pot of oil on medium heat and fry the eggplant in batches until golden and cook through. ( dry the eggplants on tissue paper prior to frying) Fry the shallots and green chillies at the end. Just flash fry for 30 seconds until par-cooked. Let the fried eggplant, shallots and green chilli drain on a paper towel until needed
- Once the mustard mixture is kept for 30 minutes, add chilli powder and pour the whole mixture into a pot or preferably into a clay pot, and leave it on a medium fire. Add the tamarind juice ( not the seeds), ginger garlic paste and white sugar into the same mixture and let the pickle gravy come to a boil. Let the mixture reduce and thicken on a low fire for about 5 minutes.At this time, taste the mixture and see if the flavours are well balanced.To make tamarind essence, place the tamarind seeds with 1/4 cup of water and massage them and leave aside for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes you will see the water has become tamarind juice/essence
- Once the gravy has come to its correct consistency, add the fried eggplant, shallots and chillies, mix through until all the eggplants have absorbed the pickle gravy. Turn off the fire.
- Serve with hot hot rice and accompaniments of your choice