Top | From Tapas to Meze
Algerian Eggplant Jam
(recipe, Joanne Weir)
Eggplant jam is made all over the Maghreb; this almost-caramelized version comes from Algeria. In this recipe, the eggplant slices are brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven, but very often in North Africa the eggplant slices are fried in olive oil. I have changed the method of cooking the eggplant to reduce the amount of olive oil. This dish is definitely one of my favorites.
- 3 medium eggplants (about 3 pounds)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1¼ tsp. ground cumin
- ⅛ tsp. harissa, or ¼ tsp. cayenne (optional)
- 1½ cups water
- 3 to 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 lemon slices or tomato wedges
- Rustic country-style bread, warmed
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the stems off the eggplants. With a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, peel the skin in ½-inch-wide strips vertically so that you have striped eggplants. Discard the peels. Slice the eggplants horizontally into ½-inch slices. Place in a colander and salt each slice. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse well and pat dry with paper towels.
- Brush a baking sheet liberally with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Brush the eggplant slices lightly with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake, turning occasionally, until they are a light golden brown on both sides, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Place the eggplant slices in a bowl and, with a fork or potato masher, mash the eggplant with the garlic, paprika, cumin, harissa, water, salt, and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook the mashed eggplant slowly, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has evaporated, 20 minutes. Stir the lemon juice into the eggplant and cook 1 minute longer. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the warm or room-temperature eggplant on a platter and garnish with the parsley and lemon slices or tomato wedges. Serve with warm bread.
This recipe can be prepared 1 day in advance. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use and bring to room temperature before serving.