For my last recipe of our Moroccan journey, I chose a recipe that my best friend and co-blogger Vera could never have presented: eggplant zaalouk.
Indeed, Vera and I may be perfect epicureans as we like to taste and discover many recipes but we also have our preferences. For my part, I am not a big fan of cinnamon, a spice which unfortunately appears on the list of ingredients of most desserts in the United States! For Vera, it is eggplant. You will never make her eat this vegetable (or rather fruit), which is anecdotally one of my favorite ingredients. Surely because it is very tasty, but also often acts as an oil sponge! Hey, I am of Tunisian origins after all, and yes, we love oil!
Zaalouk is a Moroccan salad, also popular throughout the Maghreb, which is often prepared with eggplant. Sometimes spelled zaalouka, za3louk or الزعلوك in Arabic, this roasted eggplant salad can also be prepared with zucchini, carrot or pumpkin.
Eggplant caviars and eggplant salads are quite popular throughout the Middle East, North Africa or Southern Europe. Among the most popular, baba ganoush (or mtabal) originally from levantine cuisine, melitzanosalata from Greece, ajvar from the Balkan countries which is often prepared with eggplant in addition to tomatoes, badingian bi ruman from Egypt or kyopolou from Bulgaria just to name a few.
The Moroccan version of this eggplant zaalouk salad is being prepared with cumin and olive oil that are added at the end of cooking. Depending on the zaalouk recipe, the eggplant can be roasted or not before being cooked. In all cases, it is possible to keep the skin or remove it.
Zaalouk is often served at the beginning of the meal as a salad or dip but it can also accompany grilled meats or fish, kebabs or tagines. The salad is almost always eaten with flat bread such as matlou3, khobz tajine, or kesra matlou3.
We prepared and tasted this zaalouk at the Moroccan cooking class I co-hosted with my friend Yasmina 2 weeks ago. Keep in mind that this delicious salad can be stored in the refrigerator up to 5 days and it will only be tastier… that is if you manage to have any leftover, which rarely happens!
- 2 eggplants
- 2 tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- A pinch of chili powder
- Preheat oven to grill setting.
- Cut eggplants in half and brush with olive oil, then broil until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
- Dice the tomatoes and sauté on high heat in olive oil. Add minced garlic, cumin and paprika.
- Dice the eggplants (with or without the skin) and finely chop the parsley, then add to the tomatoes.
- Keep stirring and cook until eggplant is tender for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle olive oil and add a pinch of cayenne.