Two months ago my trip to Morocco came to an end. My bag was filled with foreign souvenirs in an attempt to bring some of the exotic land home with me. Alongside the carpets, pillowcases, ceramics, tapestries and clay body masks were the edible souvenirs of almond butter, honey, argan oil and spices, as well as the inspiration to bring Moroccan cuisine home with me. Over these last 2 months, this, unfortunately, has not materialized into anything. Routine and familiarity overshadowed my memory of all the Moroccan favourites I had dined on the 3 weeks prior. Now I am ready to share some of my favourite dishes. This Moroccan Smokey Roasted Eggplant Dip packs a lot of flavour for such simple ingredients. I wanted this recipe to be the first from my trip to share.
“Eggplants are one of the best sources of soluble fibre which is not only important for helping keep us regular but also with regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre is also a potent prebiotic food, and keeps our friendly bacteria happy.”
We knew before we left home that we wanted to do a cooking class. With so many on offer in Marrakesh, we did our research and decided on Café Clock because of their contribution to the vibrant art scene. Aside from cooking classes, they host jam sessions, traditional Arabic storytelling, and Sunday Sunset Concerns. Among the dishes we prepared that day, I thought I would share the Moroccan Smokey Grilled Eggplant Dip or Zaalouk first because it is so unlike anything we commonly consume in North America, and it is relatively simple to prepare.
The trick is for roasted eggplants over an open flame is to achieve a smokey flavour. If you do not have a gas stove I’ve included an alternate method for roasted eggplants below. Serve it with some fresh out of the oven khoobz or bread, spread it on an antipasto sandwich, or if you’re like me just eat it with a spoon! If you love Moroccan flavours, one of my favourite side dishes is this Moroccan Inspired Couscous with Feta and Orange.
Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip
Zaalouk or Moroccan Smokey Roasted Eggplant Dip can be eaten as a light snack, or accompany a main meal. In Morocco khoobz or bread is eaten with every meal, and small salads or dips may be had as a light appetizer before the main course.
- 6 very small eggplants or 2 large eggplants
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 heaped tbsp parsley finely minced
- 2 heaped tbsp cilantro finely minced
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra-virgin
- 1 tbsp cumin ground
- 1 tbsp paprika
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tbsp salt
Grill the eggplant directly over an open gas flame on your stove-top until the skin has blistered and the inside is soft. To do this place the eggplants on top of the open flame, rotating every 5 minutes until the skin has blistered on all sides. If you do not have a gas stove-top see alternative method below.*
Once the eggplants are done, take them off the heat and put them in a bowl covered with a lid and let them sit until they are cool enough to peel.
Once cooled, peel the eggplants and chop the flesh finely – I think the finer the better.
In a small pan over a medium heat, add the eggplant mince along with the remaining ingredients. Continue to mash the mixture and let cook for another 10 minutes.
Zaalouk is good served warm or cold. Serve it with some warm pita or your favourite crackers.
*If you do not have a gas flame, slice the eggplant lengthwise and place them skin-side-up under a broiler. Leave them to roast for about 15 minutes, or until the skin is scorched and the eggplant is very tender. Scoop out the roasted eggplant from the skin, puree it with a vegetable masher, and proceed with the recipe. This method works better if using larger eggplants.
Adapted from Café Clock Cooking School in Marrakesh
Add protein: Serve it with a side of thick Greek yogurt drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Moroccan spices.
Serve it gluten free: Serve the dip with flax crackers or on cucumber slices.