This is a great Middle Eastern eggplant recipe to always keep on hand. Perfectly roasted eggplant is served with a stunning tahini yogurt sauce and pomegranate arils. It's perfect as a side dish or an impressive appetizer!
Eggplant is a common vegetable to use in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. From baba ganosuh, moussaka and fried eggplant to melitzanosalata and kashke bademjan, this humble vegetable can be cooked in many different ways. Today's recipe is one of my all time favorites. This Middle Eastern eggplant dish is simple, and packed with so much flavor.
Eggplant, Middle Eastern style!
This eggplant recipe is a year-round favorite, bursting with Middle Eastern flavors such as sumac, garlic and tahini. We love this dish because it's:
- Easy: As easy as cut, slit, roast and serve! Simple, yet absolutely delicious.
- Healthy: Eggplants are roasted and not fried in this recipe, which means very little oil is used. It's also vegetarian and gluten free.
- Perfectly delicious: The combination of eggplants, sumac, yogurt and tahini is delightful. The flavors go so well together and no spice is overpowering the others.
Here are the key ingredients for this eggplant recipe:
- Eggplants: Make sure your eggplants are fresh and firm. If the eggplants have brown spots on them or are too soft in some areas, they're not suitable for this recipe. The perfect eggplant is bright, firm and heavy for its size. For this recipe you can use Chinese or Italian eggplants.
- Garlic: The more the merrier. The combination of garlic, olive oil and salt will give the eggplants a bold flavor.
- Sumac: One of my favorite spices, sumac is has a tart flavor. It's made from sumac berries.
Once the eggplant is roasted, I top it with a delicious tahini yogurt sauce. To make the sauce you need the following ingredients:
- Tahini: Good quality tahini is a must is Middle Eastern recipes. You can find quality tahini is Arab, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean stores.
- Plain yogurt: You can use regular or Greek yogurt. Make sure it's plain and not flavored. I usually opt for whole milk yogurt but 2% or no fat yogurt works too.
- Garlic: I usually use a lot of garlic in my sauces but you can reduce the amount of garlic depending on our preference. It's best to use garlic cloves and not garlic powder for deeper flavor.
- Lemon juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds so much flavor to this sauce.
- Sumac: If you've never tried sumac, now is the time. It's tangy and sour, and the color is deep maroon. You can find sumac in Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shops.
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for this recipe.
Also, I love topping mine with walnuts, pomegranate arils and parsley and I encourage you not to skip it. The pomegranate adds a lot of flavor and walnuts work so well with eggplants and yogurt.
- Start with choosing the right eggplant. The eggplants must be fresh and without brown seeds. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and cut diamonds into the flesh.
- Drizzle with olive oil and top with sumac, garlic and salt.
- Bake in the oven at 400° for 30 minutes or until they're completely cooked and the flesh is soft and nice. (Please check out our tutorial on how to roast eggplant for some useful tips.)
- Meanwhile, make the tahini yogurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a jar or a bowl.
- Top the cooked eggplants with homemade tahini yogurt sauce, some pomegranate arils (if desired) and walnuts. You'll have the perfect texture and flavor combination in a very simple dish.
It's all about playing with flavors. Pomegranates and walnuts always go well together. So do lemon, garlic and tahini. As long as you're sure to test which flavors and spices work together, you're going to find yourself creating amazing dishes!
I love serving this Middle Eastern eggplant dish with yogurt tahini sauce. However, you can also top it with other sauces such as Middle Eastern tahini sauce or tzatziki. You can serve this dish as a simple lunch or dinner or even an appetizer. Or, you can have it as a side dish to accompany mains like chicken shawarma, falafel or beef shish kabob.
Frequently asked questions
As a matter of fact, yes! You can use most types of eggplants for this Middle Eastern eggplant recipe including Japanese eggplants, Chinese eggplants, graffiti eggplants or Italian eggplants. For this recipe I used Chinese eggplants as they're the closest match to what I used to use back in Iran.
You can use sour cream, or any non dairy yogurt as long as it's not flavored, i.e., plain. This middle eastern eggplant recipe is a very forgiving one and you can modify it to your preferences.
It's best served warm. You can make the tahini yogurt sauce a couple of days in advance and serve it on hot eggplants right out of the oven for a hot appetizer/side dish.
A lot of things! First of all, don't throw it out. This sauce stays good for almost a week in the refrigerator and here are a couple of things you can do with it:
Salad dressing: Add a couple tablespoons of water to the sauce and mix so it reaches the consistency of salad dressing. You can use it on our Mediterranean salad.
Sandwiches: Use this tahini yogurt sauce as a spread instead of mayonnaise on different sandwiches. My favorite sandwich toppings to go with tahini sauce are grilled veggies and grilled chicken.
Dip: Grab a some pita chips or freshly baked pita bread and put the extra tahini yogurt sauce in a bowl. Place the bowl in the middle of the plate and place the pita chips around it. There you go. You now have a tahini dip for your party, too!
More Eggplant Recipes
- Persian Eggplant Soup
- Eggplant lasagna
- Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb and Walnuts
- Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
- Eggplant parmesan
- Eggplant caponata
- Turkish stuffed eggplant
- Mirza ghasemi (Persian eggplant and tomatoes)
Middle Eastern Eggplant Recipe
- 4 Eggplants see notes
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- 4 cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Sumac
Tahini Yogurt Sauce:
- ¼ cup Tahini
- ¼ cup Plain yogurt
- 2 cloves Garlic Minced
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Sumac
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ cup Pomegranate Arils
- ¼ cup Walnuts Chopped
- ¼ cup Parsley Chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the eggplant into halves lengthwise and place them on the baking sheet. Using a knife, cut diamonds into the eggplants, make sure you're not piercing the skin.
- Drizzle the eggplants with olive oil and rub the minced garlic on them. Sprinkle salt and sumac on the eggplants.
- Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the flesh is soft and cooked completely. Meanwhile, make the tahini yogurt sauce:
Tahini Yogurt Sauce:
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Once the eggplants are cooked, top them with tahini yogurt sauce, pomegranate arils, walnuts and parsley.
- For this recipe you can use Chinese or Italian eggplants for this recipe.
- If you have extra tahini yogurt sauce, store it in a jar and use it as a dip or salad dressing.
- You can use whole milk, 2% or non-fat yogurt to make the sauce. It's also possible to use sour cream. You can also use non-dairy yogurt as long as it's plain and not flavored.