Smoked eggplant spread with poached eggs

Mirza Ghasemi

میرزا قاسمی

When you think about it, just about every culture has its own version of an eggplant spread. Iran has no shortage of its own variety of eggplant dishes. As a matter of fact, it has been said that eggplants are the potatoes of Iran. Eggplants are so easy to love for their flavor, texture, and adaptability to the flavors you offer it – and for those exact reasons, it is also easy to dislike! Throughout my years of teaching cooking classes and engaging with students about eggplants, I have not come across any other vegetable that was so controversial!

As an adult, I have come to love eggplants, though it was not always a lovefest of a relationship. As a kid, eggplant was not a vegetable I wanted anything to do with, and when you grow up in a culture that has so many eggplant dishes you either have to learn the necessary skills required to convince your mother why you should be pitied and allowed to eat hotdogs on the days she made eggplant dish or simply accept your faith to go hungry or surrender!

Make eggplant spreads, not war!

Persian fire roasted eggplant spread with eggs

Mirza Ghasemi.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Persian
Keyword: eggplant, spread
Servings: 4
Author: Omid Roustaei, The Caspian Chef

Ingredients

  • 4 Italian eggplants
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 4 eggs

Garnish

  • 4 tablespoons bails leaves, fresh

Instructions

  • Roast the eggplants over open flames on the stovetop or on the grill until all sides are completely blackened and the center begins to soften about 15-20 minutes.  Alternatively, they can be broiled or roasted in a high-temperature oven though they will not have the smokey flavor that is typically associated with this dish.  
  • Once cooled to room temperature, remove the charred skin and roughly chop the eggplants.  Set aside. 
  • In the meantime, saute the diced onions in olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat for 20 minutes until the onions are caramelized and golden.  Add garlic, salt, pepper, and turmeric and saute for an additional 5 minutes. 
  • Add the chopped eggplants and tomatoes, stir and cover and cook for 15-20 minutes over low heat. 
  • Using a spoon, pull back some of the eggplants to make space to crack an egg in.  Continue until all the eggs have been cracked into the pan.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat.  The eggs should be cooked, but somewhat soft and runny.
  • Add chopped fresh basil on top and serve with your favorite Persian flatbread.

Notes

Different regions of the Caspian Sea would have a slight variation on this dish.  I prefer the eggs cracked in and served whole, while other regions would smear the egg into the eggplant mixture. 


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