Various iterations of this eggplant spread have been in existence in different parts of the world for ages. Baba ghanoush, malidzano, salată de vinete and baingan bharta, to cite a few examples, are all prepared similarly.
It really is a simple dish but there are a few things worth noting before we dive to the recipe. First, poking holes into the eggplants to create steam vents prevents them from bursting during grilling.
Second, char grilling will give the best flavors but you may also grill the eggplants directly over fire using your gas stove or in a preheated 400F oven for twenty minutes or so.
Third, if char grilling or grilling on the stove top, and the eggplant skins appear too black already and the flesh is still not soft enough, just place the hot eggplants inside a resealable bag, close the bag and leave the eggplants to continue cooking in the residual heat for about ten minutes. They should be cool enough to handle by that time.
Roasted eggplant dip
- ½ kilogram eggplants
- 4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (herb-infused, if you like)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- ¼ cup fried shallots chopped
- 2 bird’s eye chilies finely chopped or ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- juice of ½ to 1 lemon depending on your taste
- 12 large basil leaves (I used three kinds — sweet, purple and holy basil)
- Poke the eggplants in multiple places with a thin sharp knife to create steam vents.
- Grill the eggplants, turning the oven every minute or two, for even charring until the skins are blackened and flesh feels mushy when pressed with kitchen tongs.
- Scrape off the flesh of the eggplants; discard the skins.
- Place the eggplant flesh in the blender or food processor.
- Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Pulse or blitz a few times for a chunky eggplant caviar. Puree for a smooth eggplant caviar.
- Pour the eggplant caviar into a bowl. Taste and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper, lemon juice) to your liking.
- Drizzle in more olive oil, if you like, and stir lightly.
- Serve the eggplant caviar with toasted bread.