1/2 to 1 kg unripe figs (but see NOTES first)
1 medium eggplant
2 brown onions
2 cloves garlic
6 - 10 whole cloves (the spice, not more garlic)
1 level tbsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp grated cinnamon bark
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 nutmeg, grated
2 tbsp pomegranate syrup (see NOTES)
2 - 4 very ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Dice the onion, cut the skin off the eggplant and dice that to similar size, finely dice the garlic. Place them in a heavy saucepan with the oil, cloves, salt, cumin seeds, cinnamon bark, chilli flakes, and nutmeg. Fry gently until the onions begin to soften and turn golden, then add the sugar and allow that to melt into the mixture.
Add the cayenne pepper, turmeric or anatto, hing, and finely chopped preserved lemon peels, and fish sauce, keep frying for another few minutes, then add the vinegar and finely chopped tomatoes. Allow to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes to combine flavours and soften all the ingredients.
Add the prepared figs, as per NOTES below. Add minimal water required to prevent clumping, preferably none at all. Simmer for another 10 or so minutes to make sure the figs are softened, then spoon into sterilised jars while hot, and seal the jars. During the last few minutes, adjust seasonings to suit yourself - this should be pungent with fish sauce, with loads of sweet, sour, and spicy hot flavours. Allow the jars to cool, then store in a cool place. May be kept for a few months, if it lasts that long. %)
As an accompaniment to fish, meats, cheeses, and as part of the condiments with curries and similar dishes. Also good with cold cuts and sandwiches.
First, WHY would you do this? Well, our tree must have stressed and dropped most of the fruit while it was unripe. Not wanting to waste the fruit that could be salvaged, I picked the biggest, softest, the ones with a pink tinge or better, and used those. There is another recipe for dealing with the ones that are still white inside and hard as rocks, but I threw mine in the compost.
Preparing Really Unripe Figs: Cut the stems and end nubbin of fruit off the figs. Bring enough water to the boil to cover the figs, drop in the figs when it's boiling, allow to boil for a few minutes, drain the water, rinse the figs and set aside, boil a second lot of water and repeat.
If using the figs for the recipe above, halve the figs once each way so you end up with eight bits.
If preparing very unripe figs, you'd now halve the figs lengthways, estimate how many cupfuls you have, and add one cup of water, one cup of sugar, and two to six whole cloves per cupful, and bring this to the boil again without burning the sugar but bring it to the syrup stage, then allow to cool, add the juice of about 1/4 lemon per cupful of figs, and bottle.
Sugar / Pomegranate Syrup / Etc: The relish has to be strongly flavoured in each favour. I used some home made plum jam in addition to the sweeteners mentioned in the ingredients, to get a fruitier flavour.
Flavouring: I also adjust (extra salt, cayenne, salt preserved lemon, etc) until the flavours are quite strongly developed. It's a relish, after all, and needs to be punchy.