28 February 2013

Zaalouk: Moroccan Smokey Eggplant (Aubergine) Salad

First it's hot and muggy, now its cold and raining, there is so much humidity that anything crisp becomes chewy in a matter of minutes, not to mention that if I hear the whining of one more mosquito I may actually throw more than the latest issue of New Scientist at the wall. Such is the sleep deprivation that comes with February weather and an old house with gaps under every door. Thick soupy weather calls for full flavours and this smokey, spicy, warm eggplant salad has flavour by the truckload. In Morocco lunch is usually the largest meal of the day and can stretch out for hours starting with the more than substantial mezze course before moving on to the tagine and finished with a cinnamony flaky pastry bastilla... and a nap to escape the heat. Very civilised. The mezze is always generous and consists of several small salads, often of cooked vegetables, served with fresh crusty bread. My favourite is the silky Zaalouk which it is closer in texture to a chunky dip and while it isn't the prettiest of salads it doesn't sit around long enough for anyone to notice.

  • 2 globe eggplants, shiny and firm
  • 2 banana shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon (heaped) ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • large handful of coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ground black pepper and salt to taste

Crusty bread to serve it with

  1. remove the skin of the tomato: with a sharp knife cut a shallow 'X' into the bottom of each tomato and carefully drop into boiling water for approximately 25 seconds, remove from hot water and carefully peel away the loosed skin, chop the flesh roughly and set aside
  2. blacken the eggplant: this can be done on the direct flames of a BBQ, on the gas burners on top of your stove or under the grill. If you are using your stove top remove cover the area around the burner with aluminium foil so it is easier to clean... also open a window so your house doesn't smell of burning eggplant
  3. whatever method you are using turn the eggplant regularly with tongs until the entire outside of the eggplant is charred and it has deflated a little
  4. removed from the flame and set aside to cool under a lid (the moisture helps the charred skin slip off)
  5. once cool enough to touch, remove the blackened skin, you may need to wet your hands continuously to help remove it all
  6. roughly chop the melted eggplant interior and set it aside with the tomatoes
  7. in a pan heat the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, around 5 minutes then add the garlic and powdered spices and cook for 2 minutes
  8. add the eggplant and tomato and 'smoosh' together with the back of a spoon until it is thick and chunky in texture, approximately 5 minutes
  9. remove from heat and add the parsley, coriander, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well to combine
  10. let the salad cool a little then taste, adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve with crusty bread!


  1. I lived on mezze when travelling in Morocco and I always loved the smoky eggplant 'caviar'. Look forward to making this when I get my BBQ set up, I don't like the smell of the eggplants burning inside the house.

  2. Thanks Gemma, I understand about the smell, it is pretty acrid and without good ventilation can hang around in the house for awhile.