Monday, August 8, 2011

Kashk-E-Badamjan aka Eggplant Dip

Hi Everyone,
A couple years back, my husband surprised me by taking me to a Middle Eastern Restaurant in Marietta, GA.
I wasn't feeling very experimental then or brave enough to venture beyond my Falafels and Kebabs. So we asked our waiter to help us out. And assuming us to be vegetarians, he suggested this amazing dish to us as a starter. It came to the table looking like a gray sludge, with a few mint leaves and a few fried onion slivers on its top for garnish. We looked at each other and hesitantly. Hubby nodded at me as if to give it a try. I picked the first pita half, tore it and dug into the sludge, er, dip, and hesitantly popped it into my mouth.That was when the bells of heaven rang!!!! In short I didnt stop eating until the server brought us the rest of the order.

The original recipe uses Kashk or thick Whey. But the dip was so good even when we substituted it with Ricotta  one time and Heavy Cream (close, but not very healthy) another time. And then we tried Neufchatel cheese and that was it, for us.So pick one of these options, if you cant find Kashk, when you make it.



Ingredients:
2 medium size fresh eggplants
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup of kashk or any of the substitutes above.
1/2 tsp Fresh ground pepper
Oil- to rub on the eggplant skin+ 1 tsp+ to fry the onions.






Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit.
Wash the eggplants and pat them dry. Spray a little oil on the outside and prick it all over with a fork. Put it directly on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 40 mins or until the skin gets a little wrinkly. (See image below)

 


2. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a fry pan and fry the onion slices until fragrant and golden brown. Remove and drain. Divide into 2 portions and keep aside.

3.Take the baked eggplants out carefully and dip in very cold water. The skin will be very easy to peel now. Peel the skin and discard. Mash the eggplant flesh until smooth. (If it still has an uncooked interior, chop it us into small pieces).
4. Now heat a tsp of oil, in a pan and add the eggplant to it. Add salt as needed and mix well.. Remember that the last step of adding the dairy adds some salt too. Kashk is salty and so are the creamy cheeses, so use salt sparingly. If you had to chop up the eggplant, then cover with a lid, and cook until its uniformly mushy.
5. Add half the fried onions to the mashed eggplant. Mix well. Add the fresh ground pepper and the chopped mint and tomato paste. Mix well.
6. Lastly add the kashk or the substitute of your choice and remove from fire. Stir well until combined.
Garnish with 1 tbsp chopped mint leaves and the remaining fried onions.
Serve with Pita bread or Pita chips. Enjoy.


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