If you are a fan of baba ganoush chances are you are going to love Zaalouk, which I like to call baba’s Moroccan cousin. Zaalouk is a warm and earthy dip made from eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and spices. I will admit, this dip might not be the prettiest considering it’s well… brown, but after just 1 taste this recipe will be one of your favorites. Enjoy this ethnic vegetarian dish as a dip with warm pita or crusty bread, or keep it a little extra chunky or treat it like a warm salad and eat it on the side of a main dish.
If you’ve cooked eggplant before you know they can be rather difficult to get tender. When it is not cooked enough eggplant can be spongy and bland. While some recipes for zaalouk call to stew cubed eggplant, this recipe adds an additional step that not only guarantees your eggplant will be soft, tender, and delicious, but adds an additional grilled and smoky flavor. Yes… we are going to grill it. Similar to my baba ganoush recipe the eggplant is grilled until soft, and then stewed with the rest of the ingredients. No grill? Roasting the eggplant will yield the same texture without the additional fire roasted flavor, so if you have a grill use it!
While you do need to put some time into making this delicious dish, you’ll find that its easy and seamless to make.
Prep the Eggplant – Poke 2-3 small slits in the eggplant to prevent it from popping and to assist with cooking. Preheat the grill to 450 F – 500 F degrees. Once hot put your eggplants on and close the lid. Turn every 10 minutes to prevent scorching. Depending on how hot your grill is this should take roughly 20-30 minutes. If opting to roast, preheat the oven to 425°. Rotate every 10 minutes. In both scenarios the eggplant is done when it is soft and can be pierced with a fork or knife with ease. When the eggplant is done and cooled cut off the stems, peel back and discard the skin. Cut into cubes and place on the side.
Prep the Tomatoes – If opting for fresh tomatoes they need to be blanched to remove the skin. Score the bottom of the tomatoes with a small X, just enough to pierce the skin. In a medium pot of boiling water boil the tomatoes for 2-3 minutes. Immediately throw in a bowl of ice cold water. Once cooled to the touch peel back the skin. Dice, with seeds and all. If opting for canned skip this step.
Make the Zaalouk – In a medium sauce pan over low to medium heat add olive oil. Once oil has heated up bloom the cumin and paprika for 2-3 minutes until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes careful to not burn or brown the garlic. Toss in the chopped tomatoes, eggplant, parsley, and cilantro. Salt to taste, I find that it needs anywhere between 3/4 and 1 tsp of salt. Stew for 15-20 minutes breaking up large chunks as the eggplant and tomatoes further cook. The consistency is up to you, I leave some small chunks.
Want to make this spicy? Add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of chili flakes when blooming the spices.
Cool Down – While I know it might be tempting to dish this out as soon as it’s done cooking, this dip tastes best when brought down to room temp giving time for the flavors to come together further.
Zaalouk can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. No need to re-heat this dip tastes great cold.