2000s Recipes + Menus

Kashk-E Bademjan (Persian Eggplant Spread)

Serves4 to 6 (hors d’oeuvre)
  • Active time:25 min
  • Start to finish:40 min
July 2009
A Persian dinner party would not be a Persian dinner party without a bowl of this silky eggplant spread, the ultimate dip for traditional lavash flatbread. (Feel free to dig in with pita bread or crackers, too.) In this version, from Firoozeh Dumas’s mother (see Sweet, Sour, and Resentful), garlic, onion, and mint provide bright aromatics while chopped walnuts add richness. But what is that funky undercurrent? That would be the all-important kashk, a fermented whey by-product that has a tahini-like consistency and an irresistible flavor all its own. You may be tempted to substitute plain yogurt, but only kashk (available at kalustyans.com) will have you feeling like Xerxes the Great.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions (1 thinly sliced, 1 chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 lb Asian eggplants (3 to 4 medium), peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • Kashk (liquid whey protein) to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted (see Tips)
  • Garnish:

    mint sprigs
  • Accompaniment:

    lavash, pita bread, or plain crackers
  • Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Fry sliced onion, stirring frequently, until deep golden-brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then season lightly with salt. Reserve skillet with oil.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Cook chopped onion and garlic in oil with turmeric and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 8 to 12 minutes. Add eggplant and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in mint and remove from heat. Season with salt if desired.
  • Transfer to a bowl and top with kashk, then sprinkle with walnuts and fried onions.
Cooks’ note: Spread can be made 1 day ahead and topped with fried onions, but not kashk and walnuts, then chilled. Bring to room temperature, then top with kashk and walnuts.
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