Mama's Ikra: Eggplant Spread
Ever since 1984, my beautiful Mama and I have been holding each other tight (though I no longer fit so comfortably in the crook of her arm).
In honor of yesterday's Mothers' Day (notice the apostrophe placement!), I'd like to share one of my mother's recipes, and to thank her for how much she has done to shape me. So much of what I am--especially as a cook, as a nurturer, and as a confident woman--can be attributed to the example she has set throughout my life.
This dish, known as eggplant "caviar" in Russia, is one that my Mama made throughout my childhood, and was a favorite of mine, slathered on fresh-baked bread. It was pretty much the only way I had ever eaten eggplant, so I was in for a rude shock the first time I tried some spongy, bland eggplant vegetarian entree at a restaurant. What was this imposter standing in for the eggplant I knew and loved?
And although I have since learned to enjoy eggplant cooked in a variety of ways, this dish is still my favorite, still the one that calls me home, and reminds me of all the love and talent that my mom put into all the food she has ever prepared for me, or for anyone who has been lucky enough to join her at the dining table.
Mama is a diligent follower of this blog, so if you have questions for her about this recipe, leave them in the comments for her to answer! (and hopefully she'll be back soon with a guest post of her own). Enjoy.
Eggplant spread, "Baklazhannaya Ikra"
- Two medium eggplants (of the large, deep purple variety)
- Two medium onions, chopped
- Two large carrots, grated
- Two large tomatoes, chopped
- One can tomato sauce
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Salt, black pepper, sugar, fresh parsley and dried oregano, to taste
- Olive oil
- Wash eggplants, make slits in the tops and bake them at 350-375F for 45 min or until eggplant looks shrunken.(While the eggplant bakes, move to Step 3).
- Let the eggplant cool and squeeze the liquid out. Then, peel the skins off. Put in food processor and pulse several times until it looks like cooked oatmeal. (At this point it does not look appealing...but wait until you see the finished product).
- While baking eggplant, heat oil in a large skillet and add the garlic to enrich the oil. Saute the chopped onions in enriched oil (the amount of oil is up to you, I use a small amount). Transfer this onion-garlic mixture to a bowl.
- Saute grated carrot in the same skillet (you can add some more oil).
- Combine all of the above (steps 1-3) in the same skillet, add chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt, pepper and cook for about 30 min. mixing gently. Add water if needed to keep spreadable consistency. I sometimes add a pinch of sugar (½ tsp or so) if the carrot didn’t add enough sweetness. And I also add garlic, if people like it. Add fresh parsley and oregano and any other herbs you like.
- You can eat it as a side dish or spread it on bread. In any case it will be mouthwatering!