I don’t know how to best translate what this dish is into English. It is not a dip and definitely not your trendy aubergine ‘caviar’ but it is traditionally eaten as a side dish (or starter) with other dishes like grilled meat and chicken or even a stew with rice.
This delicious dish comes from the ‘Rasht’ province of northern Iran and is one of my absolute favourites dishes and a must have whenever I eat out in Persian restaurants. I decided to make it for myself one day and couldn’t believe how straightforward it was and so from now on, it has to be homemade all the way!
It is a great dish that is actually incredibly low fat as the aubergines are oven baked so they don’t absorb the massive quantities of oil they tend to when being fried. Perfect for vegetarians yet also incredibly satisfying for carnivorous types (like myself) too and I find the best way to eat it is with Persian Lavosh bread, but toasted pitas are my other favourite way to scoop up copious amounts of this garlicky aubergine favourite. Garlic lovers rejoice as this dish has quite a bit of garlic in it, which really is delicious, but if you don’t like garlic you can use caramelised onions instead, although only if you really must.
Persian 'Mirza Ghasemi' Aubergines (Serves 4-6 as a starter or side dish)
4 large aubergines
4 large ripe tomatoes
2 whole garlic bulbs (peeled, crushed and roughly sliced)
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 heaped teaspoon of turmeric powder
2 heaped teaspoons of Maldon sea salt
3 medium sized whole eggs
Oil for frying
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and once hot, place aubergines directly onto the oven griddles and without pricking or breaking the skin, roast them for 40-45 minutes.
In a large frying pan over a medium heat, add some oil and slowly cook your garlic slices making sure you are cooking them through rather than browning them. If they start to brown too quickly take the pan off heat and the residual heat will still give you a decent temperature for a while longer if needed. Once you garlic has cooked through and just as some of the edges begin to brown, add your turmeric powder and ensure it is mixed well into the garlic and cook it through for a minutes or two. Quarter your tomatoes, removing the core and throw them into the pan and cook them with the garlic until they break down and are full cooked through. Then turn the temperature off and set aside.
Once your aubergines are cooked, carefully remove them from the oven using a plate to catch them as sometimes they burst so its best to put them straight into the plate. Then using a knife score the skin and take a spoon and scoop the flesh out from all 4 of them and add it to your frying pan. Then turn the high on again to a medium temperature and mix the aubergine pulp with the garlic and tomatoes and cook them through for a few minutes, mashing them a little with your cooking utensil of choice. Add your tomato puree, mix thoroughly and leave it to cook through again for about 5 or so minutes, ensuring you keep it moving so it doesn’t burn.
Finally beat your 3 eggs whole and make lots of little holes in the aubergine mixture and simply pour the beaten egg mix straight onto the pan and do not (I repeat DO NOT) stir it in. You don’t want the egg mix to enrich the aubergine mix but instead you want it to cook through and once cooked, then you mix it in to the aubergines. This takes approximately 8 minutes or so and you will see when the egg is cooked as it goes opaque. Once cooked, give the whole mix a good stir so that it has an even consistency and it is ready to eat. Personally I think it is best served warm, but the truth is you can eat it warm, hot or cold. Take your bread of choice and scoop a massive dollop of the mix and enjoy.