Zaalouk

MOROCCO

The spicy and savory eggplant dip of your dreams

SUBMITTED BY

Fayrouz

Eggplant recipes can often be a bit of a divisive topic. While some people love it and others hate it, there’s no doubt that eggplant plays a big role in food across the globe. And that’s exactly why I’ve launched a new series to experience all the different ways that the world eats eggplant – starting with Morocco.

Across Northern Africa and the Middle East, you’ll find tons of dishes that combine tomatoes and eggplants. However, I guarantee that none of them are quite like this. Zaalouk is a warm salad of eggplant cooked in a spiced tomato sauce that originated in Morocco. The flavors of this dish are so perfectly balanced between the savory cumin and garlic and the freshness of the cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice.

There are also a few ways that you can get creative with Zaalouk. I, for example, lightly sautéed the diced eggplant before cooking it further with the tomato and spices. However, the eggplant can also be baked, charred, or even fried to mix up the flavors and textures of the dish. Depending on your preference, you can also leave the salad chunky, mash until it’s smooth, or even blend if that’s the type of consistency you’d prefer. There are no wrong answers, it seems.

Fayrouz is who we all have to thank for this incredible Zaalouk recipe. Growing up in Marrakesh, Morocco, Zaalouk was a big part of Fayrouz’s childhood. In her family, the dish was served among a smattering of other warm salads, as a side dish for fried fish, tagine, or grilled meats, or as a dip. However, one of her favorite ways to enjoy Zaalouk was spread across a warm baguette for special occasions or something tasty for family outings. For what it’s worth, I fully support all of these Zaalouk eating options.

Zaalouk is just one of those recipes that you can eat again and again. It’s an accessible and comforting dish that can be mixed and matched in a million different ways. Even though it may seem plain and simple, there’s something so special about this Moroccan Eggplant and Tomato Salad.

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Ingredients
  

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 2 medium/large tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic pressed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • cayenne pepper to taste, optional
  • lemon juice to taste, optional

Instructions
 

  • Peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes. Place them in a large deep skillet or large pot along with the olive oil, spices, garlic, and herbs. Stir to combine.
  • Trim the stems from the eggplants and peel them. Some strips of skin can be left intact if you like a colorful zaalouk.
  • Finely chop the peeled eggplants and add them to the skillet or pot along with ¼ - ⅓ cup of water.
  • Cover and cook the tomato mixture and eggplants over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chopped eggplant has begun to soften and reduce in volume. Stir to combine all the ingredients well.
  • Add the optional chili peppers or cayenne, if using, and a little more water if you found that the ingredients were sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cover and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the eggplant and tomatoes are soft enough to mash. At this point, you can add the optional lemon juice, if using.
  • Continue cooking the zaalouk uncovered to reduce the liquids, scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring frequently. Adjust the heat if necessary to avoid burning the zaalouk. If you want a puree-like consistency, mash the eggplants and tomatoes while the liquids reduce. If you prefer a chunky texture, stir without mashing.
  • When the zaalouk has reduced to a consistency you like, taste and adjust seasoning then remove from the heat and serve with bread!

Notes

Recipe inspired by Taste of Maroc
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Snack
Region: Africa
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

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