In “Cooking in Iran,” author Najmieh Batmanglij explains that this smoky eggplant dish is made all along the Caspian Sea, each cook varying the recipe. You can roast the small Italian eggplants on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet in a hot oven, or set the vegetables directly on the flame of gas burners so the flesh turns mildly smoky. Chop the flesh and saute it with garlic, then cook eggs right in the mixture.
|6||Italian eggplants (about 3½ pounds total)|
|6||tablespoons olive oil|
|7||cloves garlic, grated|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|1||teaspoon ground turmeric|
|Large handful fresh basil leaves (for garnish)|
1. If using an oven, set the oven at 450 degrees. Put a rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Prick the eggplants well all over. Set them on the rack and roast, turning once, for 50 minutes, or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer. If using a gas burner, prick the eggplants well all over and set the eggplants on a medium flame (you’ll need two burners). Turn them every 5 to 10 minutes, or until the outside is tender. Char, turning often, until the eggplants are tender when pierced with a skewer. Set aside to cool.
2. Halve the eggplants and scoop the flesh onto a cutting board. Chop it finely.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add 5 cloves of the garlic and cook, stirring, for 20 seconds, or until golden. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, and eggplant. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until all the juices are absorbed.
4. Turn the heat to low. Spread the eggplant mixture to form an even layer. With a spoon, make 4 indentations in the mixture. Drizzle a little of the remaining olive oil into each hole and add some of the remaining garlic. Add an egg to each hole. Cover and cook for 8 minutes, or until the eggs are softly set.
5. Stir the mixture gently with a spoon. Garnish with basil and serve with plain rice. Sheryl Julian. Adapted from
“Cooking in Iran: Regional Recipes
& Kitchen Secrets”