An utterly delicious rustic North African vegetarian "caviar" that's prefect on warmed crusty bread or your favorite flatbread.
بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
While people elsewhere are bundling up in warm sweaters and raking up leaves in their yard, summer is very lazily hanging around here in Algeria. Luckily, the weather has taken a slight dip. It's not so miseribly hot and humid. The calmer weather has allowed me to explore the markets more often. And I found them all brimming with super-cheap late summer vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines. The opportune time to make tomato sauces and dersa (recipe coming up very soon!) to put away. And also to whip a myriade of yummy tasties using these late summer vegetables. Aubergines (eggplants, garden eggs) are one such late summer vegetable that I've only come to love while here in Algeria. In the past, I was very intimidated by aubergines and only in recent years did I give them a try. Looking back, I'm not sure why they're quite soft, tender and have an amazing texture once treated with tendernes which allows them to be fried, sautéed, braised, and even chargrilled.
Aubergines have long been a misunderstood as non-nourishing food. The name of aubergine in Hindi is "baignan" which means "without merit". But this humble fruit that is commonly mistaken for a vegetable is native to the subcontinent of India. And it was brought around to the Middle East and North African around in the Middle Ages. Eggplants contain certain essential phyto nutrients which improve blood circulation and nourish the brain. But remember—these nutrients are concentrated in the skin of the eggplant, so use it when possible.
One of the best and easiest ways I like to enjoy aubergines (eggplant) is by whipping this North African salad called Zaâlouk. Zaâlouk is a deliciously refreshing cooked salad with aubergines (eggplants), tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and some spcies. Some call this dish a "vegetarian caviar" as it's spooned onto bread or crackers very much like caviar. It's generally eaten cold or at room temperature as a side dish to meat or fish. Zaâlouk is utterly delicious eaten on warm Matlouh bread or Kesra. Zaâlouk is one of those dishes which only get better with time. It's often made a day or two ahead of serving so that the flavors meld together.
Zaâlouk is prefect eatan along side grilled meat so if you have some aubergine around this coming Eid al Adha be sure to make this dish to accompany your grilled meats!