Badımcan Kürüsü (Eggplant Caviar)
It’s no wonder that the passion for this delicious spread/appetizer spans lands beyond the Caucasus, where eggplant caviar is believed to have originated. Where exactly it was born is uncertain. Prepared the Azerbaijani way, eggplant caviar gets its delectable flavor from roasted eggplant and peppers, juicy tomatoes and sweet onions, slowly simmered into a silky smooth dip. Often, eggplant caviar is made in large quantities, packed into jars, sealed tightly and stored for winter. Slather it on a slice of bread to form an open sandwich and enjoy as a quick snack.
- 8 medium dark-skinned eggplants, such as Italian (about 2 pounds)
- 1 medium young green bell pepper or sweet banana pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (2 cups)
- Ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Rinse and pat dry the eggplants and pepper. Char them directly over the gas flame of your stove or speared onto skewers over hot coals. The skins should be completely charred. (You can also roast them in the oven. Arrange the vegetables on a baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack of a 400-degree oven, turning them over once, until the skin is charred and the flesh feels soft, 30 to 40 minutes.) When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins. Seed the pepper. Finely chop the flesh of the eggplants and pepper. Set aside.
- In a medium frying pan, heat half the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid has somewhat evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and pepper. Add the remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the excess moisture has evaporated and the mixture is smooth, about 40 minutes. About 5 minutes before you remove the pan from the heat, add the vinegar and stir.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Scoop the caviar into a bowl or jar. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. The longer the caviar stays in the refrigerator, the better the flavor will be.
- Reprinted with permission from Pomegranates and Saffron: A Culinary Journey to Azerbaijan by Feride Buyuran (AZ Cookbook, 2015).