Charred, smoky eggplant blended with tangy yogurt is a common pairing in many a Middle Eastern country.
This particular recipe is a little riff on a popular Persian dish called borani-e-bademjaan that I grew up eating. The dip, topped with fresh mint and a crunchy trifecta of walnuts and fried onions and garlic, is perfect for dinner parties. In fact, I make it all the time when I'm having people over; I just rip up some lavash, which is perfect for scooping dip.
My mother would sometimes add turmeric or drops of saffron water for variation. Though I keep this version pretty traditional, I'll occassionally squeeze a bit of lime or lemon juice over the top to cut through the smoky flavor.
Shhh, don't tell my mom.
To learn more, read "Love on a Rooftop."
Smoky Eggplant with Yogurt, Mint and Toasted Walnuts
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
4 large eggplants
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced, plus 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced, plus 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup whole-fat Greek yogurt
Salt, to taste
½ cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
¼ cup loosely packed mint, torn
Aleppo pepper (optional)
Lavash bread, to serve
1. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Grill the eggplants, using tongs to turn the vegetables, until completely charred and the flesh has become very soft, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Once cool, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Transfer the flesh to a colander to drain of any excess liquid, then discard the skins.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until completely softened, about 15 minutes. Add the eggplant flesh and, using a wooden spoon, smash the eggplant and onion mixture together until all the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat and stir in the yogurt. Season with salt. Transfer the dip to a bowl to cool.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining onions and cook until crispy, about 20 minutes. Transfer the onions to a paper-lined sheet tray to drain of any excess oil. Wipe the skillet clean and place over medium heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Add the garlic and cook, swirling the skillet constantly, until the garlic has become crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer the garlic to the sheet tray with the onions to drain.
4. Using a rubber spatula, spread the eggplant mixture on a flat dish. Top with the crispy onions and garlic chips, walnuts and mint. Garnish with a sprinkling of Allepo pepper. Serve with torn lavash bread.