A misnomer, no doubt, considering that there is no salt-cured fish roe in this dish. But eggplant caviar is the name by which the English-speaking world knows it, so, I’m sticking with the name.
Various iterations of this eggplant spread have been in existence in different parts of the world for ages. Baba ghanoush, malidzano, salată de vinete and baingan bharta, to cite a few examples, are all prepared similarly.
- ½ kilogram eggplants
- 4 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (herb-infused, if you like)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon grated garlic
- ¼ cup fried shallots chopped
- 2 bird’s eye chilies finely chopped or ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- juice of ½ to 1 lemon depending on your taste
- 12 large basil leaves (I used three kinds — sweet, purple and holy basil)
- Poke the eggplants in multiple places with a thin sharp knife to create steam vents.
- Grill the eggplants, turning the oven every minute or two, for even charring until the skins are blackened and flesh feels mushy when pressed with kitchen tongs (see notes after the recipe).
- Scrape off the flesh of the eggplants; discard the skins.
- Place the eggplant flesh in the blender or food processor.
- Add the rest of the ingredients.
- Pulse or blitz a few times for a chunky eggplant caviar. Puree for a smooth eggplant caviar.
- Pour the eggplant caviar into a bowl. Taste and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper, lemon juice) to your liking.
- Drizzle in more olive oil, if you like, and stir lightly.
- Serve the eggplant caviar with toasted bread.