Friday, 28 July 2017

Five Delicious Aubergine Recipes

Text by Ekaterina Petrova   
The coming of fall in the Balkans brings with it more than a drop in temperatures and a change of scenery. This time of the year also means good news in the culinary department. The array of in-season fruits and vegetables– from the crispy bell peppers and the tiny green chillies to the juicy grapes, fresh walnuts and thick ripe figs, make the mouth water and beg to be consumed.

One of the biggest autumnal delights for the palate is the aubergine. This dark purple, elongated vegetable has somewhat of a contradictory nature – it has seeds typical of fruits but it is used as a vegetable in cooking; its bitter, unpleasant taste when raw is transformed into a soft, sumptuous and delicious consistency when processed.

In the Balkans region, aubergines are cooked in infinite ways – as a main ingredient in dips or stuffed with vegetables, meat or rice, or as a condiment to other vegetables or meats. In order to glimpse into the endless possibilities, offers five delicious recipes from the region, some starring aubergines as the leading ingredient and others in which they play second fiddle, some with meat and others – just as scrumptious, with vegetables only.

1. Aubergine Dip, Bulgarian Style

Aubergine dip is wide-spread through the Balkans region, with variations of recipes differing not only across countries, but also between regions and even households. We provide you here with a simple and basic recipe that could be altered and made more complicated according to taste, by adding yogurt or mayonnaise for example.


2-3 aubergines
4-5 peppers (mixed red and green)
2-3 medium tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic
A fresh bunch of parsley
Red wine vinegar
Olive or sunflower oil


Roast the aubergines, tomatoes and peppers on a hot plate or in the oven, peel their skin and cut into small pieces. Add the crushed garlic. Mix well, add oil, vinegar and salt to taste, stir again. After placing the mixture into a serving bowl, top with finely chopped parsley. Could be served as a salad or as a paste to spread onto bread.

2. Aubergine Dolmas (Stuffed Aubergines), Turkish Style

Like with the aubergine dip, there are different ways of preparing this dish throughout the region. The recipe we offer here is most commonly used in Turkey. It is also possible to make a vegetarian version of it by foregoing the mutton, and even rice, and replacing them with garlic and more of the other ingredients, mentioned below.


4 large aubergines
1 cup of cooked rice
120 grams of minced mutton (raw or cooked)
2 tomatoes
1 or 2 onions
Lemon Juice
Pine nuts or walnuts
Marjoram, mint or basil


Mix the cooked rice with the well-seasoned meat, a chopped fried onion or two, the chopped tomatoes, the walnuts, and some marjoram, mint, or basil.
Cut about 2.5 centimetres off the thin end of the aubergines and scoop out most of the flesh. Cut this into dice and mix it with the prepared stuffing.
Fill the aubergines with the stuffing (not too full), put the tops in, inverted, so that they fit like corks, lay them in a pan with a little olive oil. After it gets hot, pour hot water over them to come half-way up.
Simmer for 30 minutes, add the juice of a lemon, and cook very slowly another 30 minutes.
There should be very little sauce left by the time they are ready.


3. Veal with Aubergines, Greek Style

This is one dish where the meat can’t be avoided, but non-vegetarians will surely find it mouth-watering. Bear in mind that this meal, commonly prepared on the Greek island of Crete, isn’t the most visually appealing but its taste more than compensates for its shortcomings in appearance.


1 kilogram of good beef, or veal
1 kilogram of aubergines
1 onion
4 tomatoes


The aubergines are roughly cubed, each into four or five pieces. It is a good idea to sprinkle a thin coat of salt onto them, to remove any bitterness, and then rinse it off after 10-15 minutes.
The meat is cubed into fork-sized chunks, with a bit of fat left on them.
Chop the onions and soften them in a frying pan. There’s no need for a lot of oil at this stage, as the beef will provide its own.
Add the veal and cook at a medium heat. Grate the tomatoes and add them too. Fry the aubergines separately in plenty of oil, hot enough to sizzle. When browned, remove from the pan.
Now, both aubergines and meat are fully cooked, just add the fried aubergines into the veal.

From Louis Tracy and Yannis Samatas,

4. Tomatoes Stuffed with Aubergine Paste, Romanian Style

In this recipe, the aubergines are used for a paste with which to stuff tomatoes. It is possible, however, to use the mixture as a dip – similar to the Bulgarian recipe, and simply eat it on bread.


2 – 3 aubergines
1 onion
Sunflower oil
5-6 medium sized tomatoes
Mayonnaise or butter


Roast and peel the aubergines.
Chop them and add the finely chopped onion and salt to taste. Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil little by little, mixing continuously with a spoon until the oil is incorporated. Let the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Then slice 1 centimeter from the top of the tomatoes and spoon out their insides. They can either be added to the mixture or discarded. Fill the tomatoes with the aubergine mix, put their tops back on and decorate the tomatoes with some cheese blended with butter or mayonnaise.

From Mihaela Cimpoeasu,

5. Breaded Aubergines in Tomato Sauce, Bulgarian Style

Although this dish is popular in Bulgaria, like with the other recipes, versions of it exist throughout the region. It is possible to simply grill the aubergines instead of breading and frying them.


2 medium aubergines (cut in thin slices),
Sunflower oil
50-80 grams of plain white flour
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves (crushed),
Chopped parsley


Cut the aubergines into thin slices, season with salt, let them sit for about 10 minutes and drain any water.
Dip each slice into the flour, heat some oil in a pan and fry the aubergines. (Alternatively, brush them with a little oil and grill them.)
Let the aubergines cool.
To make the tomato sauce: Heat some oil in a pan, add 1 crushed garlic clove and the can of tomatoes. Simmer until the sauce thickens, add 1 more crushed garlic clove and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the stove and some chopped parsley.

Arrange a layer of sauce followed by a layer of aubergines in a dish. It is best to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.




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