We love our pastes, purees, spreads, dips and powders, and the kitchen is always full of them. On a cold and rainy early Summer day, we wanted tea and snacks, so two spreads were created for the crusty bread from our Italian fruiterer, and life was good again. We no longer cared about the rain.
This spread (or side salad, mezze style), is made from sliced eggplant which has been baked until soft and mashed with spices. It is then gently fried until all moisture is lost, and served with harissa. Delicious! Sometimes it is referred to as a jam, rather than a salad or spread.
Similar dishes include Eggplant Pahi, Grilled Eggplant with Walnuts and Pomegranate, Eggplant in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Broad Bean Puree with Chilli Oil, White Bean, Sage and Roasted Garlic Spread, and Green Olive Tapenade.
Algerian Eggplant Salad and Spread | Betanjal M’charmel
3 medium eggplant, about 1 – 1.5 kg
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tblspn lemon juice, to taste
sweet paprika, to taste, up to 1 Tblspn
3 – 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tspn ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper
a little harissa, depending on its heat level, or use 0.25 tspn cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Heat the oven to 190C.
Peel each eggplants vertically in 2.5 cm strips, leaving it with a striped effect. Slice the eggplant horizontally into 1.5 cm thick slices. Salt the slices and let them drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse the slices and pat dry using paper towelling.
Oil a baking sheet or some baking paper on an oven tray, and oil both sides of the eggplants. Put them in one layer onto the tray, and bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through. They will be light golden brown.
Mash the eggplant with a fork, incorporating the garlic, and spices (but not the harissa).
(This step can be omitted if time is short.) Place this mixture in a skillet or small frying pan, and over low heat, stirring often, gently fry the eggplant until all of the liquid evaporates and only oil and vegetables remain. Pour off the oil.
Season the eggplants with lemon juice to taste. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as needed. Mix through the harissa, and let come to room temperature.
Serve as part of a mezze platter, as a side salad, or as a spread with crusty bread. It goes well with chopped parsley, lemon slices, tomato wedges and crusty bread.
recipe notes and alternatives
Can be made a day ahead. Bring to room temperature before serving.