Eggplants, otherwise known fondly as the potatoes of Iran, have a special place in Persian cuisine. You will find them fried, baked, charred over open fire, or pickled. Their texture ranges from chewy, smooth, chunky, and soft to creamy. They are cooked into Kuku or preserved as a Torshi (pickled) or integrated as a supporting element into a Khoresh or – in this case – featured as the star of the show!
Eggplant, otherwise known as the potato of Iran, is used in a variety of stews, Kuku (egg-based dishes), and layered rice dishes.
This stew is a well known, popular and respected dish that finds itself served frequently and proudly on a Persian table. The very special and unique ingredient in this dish is “Ghooreh”, which showcases Iranians’ love of all things sour. Ghooreh is the Farsi name for unripe sour grapes. Once harvested, they are then juiced, frozen or dried into a powder. These elements are used anywhere acidity is called for.
Here is another dish in the Kuku series. But this Kuku is quite special, as it highlights a vegetable that has been called the potato of Iran: none other than eggplant. Eggplant is such a unique vegetable, and – as my beloved cooking teacher would say – eggplant is a prima donna ingredient, and I could not agree more!
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!
This was another dish that I got to make with mom while visiting her in Chicago earlier this year. Mella Ghormeh is a simple northern Iranian / Caspian sea dish which is incredibly simple to make. A tasty dish that starts with sauteing onions, garlic, and eggplants followed by adding dried herbs, tomatoes and water. The eggplants are cooked until they become tender, eggs are then cracked on top and poached in the broth for about 5 minutes. As with most Caspian Sea dishes, it is served with rice and yogurt on the side.