Eggplant, Mint and Yogurt Dip
This recipe, along with many of the dips and salads here, is a variation on a dish I read about in Najmieh Batmanglij’s New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies. It’s hard to ascribe the origins of a recipe, or explain how I came to make something the way I do, as so often the recipe that appears here may be merely suggested by another I’ve read somewhere, while diverging significantly from it. I find it impossible to cook without fiddling: which means all my recipes are refracted through the prism of my own tastes and prejudices. I expect you correspondingly, to do the same.
For all the dips here, you need a really good pile of flat breads and breadsticks for people to break off and smear with the aromatic purées or sandwich curlingly around the salads.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party
Recipe Coursecold appetizer, side dish
Taste and Texturecreamy
- 3 small eggplants (1–1½lbs total weight) to make about 1¼ cups when roasted, pulped and strained
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1 large onion
- 3 fat cloves garlic
- 1 cup Greek plain yogurt
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- 2 tablespoans toasted pine nuts
- Dribble of extra virgin olive oil to decorate
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prick the eggplants with a fork and put them on a baking sheet to cook for 45 minutes to an hour. The insides of the eggplants should be soft and they will feel squishy to touch. Let them cool before peeling and mashing them, then leave in a sieve to drain.
Heat the oil in a pan and peel and finely chop the onion, adding the pieces to the pan. Peel the garlic cloves and mince or grate into the onion. Or just put onion and garlic together in a processor first and blitz. Cook until golden and then add the drained eggplant mush, cooking it with the onion and garlic for a further 5 minutes or so over a gentle heat, stirring frequently. Take off the heat, turn into a bowl to cool and season with salt and pepper.
Add the yogurt to the cooled eggplant mixture together with the saffron in its now golden water, stirring together well, and then turn into a bowl and sprinkle over the mint, toasted pinenuts and a dribble of oil.
2004 Nigella Lawson