This Persian dish’s name translates to eggplant with whey, which is the clear liquid you see atop yogurt when it has stood for a while. That plain-Jane name doesn’t begin to describe how good this dish is, however. Unless you have access to a Persian grocer, you’ll probably need to substitute something for the whey in the original form of this dish. Some sources suggest sour cream, but buttermilk more closely mimics whey’s tart, tangy flavor. —Robin Mather
This recipe is by Robin Mather and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
- 3 medium eggplants
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 large onions, cut in 1/4-inch-thick half moon slices
- 3 Tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Pita wedges or toasted lavash pieces, for serving
Step 1: Heat the oven to 450 F, or heat a grill.
Step 2: Pierce 3 medium eggplants in several places with a paring knife, then place them on a baking sheet (or directly onto the grill grate). Roast until the eggplants collapse, about 30 to 40 minutes. (For grilling, turn until all sides are blistered and eggplant has collapsed, 15 to 30 minutes.) It’s OK if they char a little.
Step 3: Meanwhile, heat a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat; add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 large onions (cut in 1/4-inch-thick half moon slices). Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Caramelize the onions by cooking them slowly, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown. This may take 20 to 40 minutes, or longer. Take care that the onions don’t burn. Set the onions aside off the heat.
Step 4: Let the eggplants cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Stir in 3 tablespoons buttermilk; set aside.
Step 5: In a small skillet over medium, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir into the eggplant mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 6: To assemble the dish, transfer the eggplant mixture to a serving bowl. Place the caramelized onions atop the eggplant, drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the onions, and scatter 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro over everything. Serve with pita or lavash for dipping.