Moroccan Zaalouk (eggplant salad/dip)
I’m between Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on the Sunset Strip my most favorite restaurant, Dar Maghreb used to serve the most enchanting Zaalook. The flavors heightened my adoration for eggplant.
Dar Maghreb captivated you upon entry with tall arched doorways, mosaic tiles, beautiful carpets, sumptuous pillows, private rooms, belly dancers and bubbling fountain, all intertwined with wafts of authentic Moroccan dishes that you eat by the pinch full with bread sans utensils, enveloping all of your senses for an escape from the hustle and bustle outside for a lounging culinary experience.
I adapted my own versions of Zaalouk over the years and when Dar Maghreb had to closed their doors back in 2012, I was glad for the life long memories I experienced there.
I’m between Hollywood Bowl and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on the Sunset Strip my most favorite restaurant, Dar Maghreb used to serve the most enchanting Zaalook. The flavors of this simple dish forever heightened my adoration for eggplant.
- 2 lbs of eggplant, skin removed
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1½ teaspoons Marion’s Smokey Blend
- 1½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon Bayou Classic-ish Blend
- ¼ teaspoon (or more) red pepper flakes
- 2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 piece of lemon, juiced
- ¼ to ½ cup (a large handful) cilantro, chopped
- olive oil for roasting the eggplant and for finishing the salad
- Peel the eggplant and slice lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices. Drizzle a large parchment-lined baking sheet with a generous Tablespoon of olive oil and arrange the slices evenly. Depending on the size of your sheet, you may need another one to accommodate the eggplant. Drizzle another generous Tablespoon of olive oil over the slices, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and roast in a 450°F oven. Roast until the slices are cooked and browned, around 20-30 minutes. Once they are golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes on the counter.
- In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and shallot, cook for around 30 seconds. Add all of your spices except salt and bloom the spices in the hot oil for 10 seconds before quickly adding the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, black pepper. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust spices accordingly.
- Now chop the cooked eggplant slices into bite-sized pieces. Add them to the sauté pan, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
- The eggplant should now be fully cooked and tender but shouldn't have disintegrated. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly and stir in the lemon juice and the chopped cilantro. Give it a taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. If you want a slightly smoother texture, blend all ingredients for a couple of seconds. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
- Enjoy with warm pita bread, crusty sourdough or rye bread, crackers, or baby raw carrots and endive.
You can use the large Italian eggplant or the longer Japanese ichiban type. Japanese tend to have less seeds in them. If you dont want to eat the seeds in your zaalouk, you cut open your eggplants and find that they are full of seeds, just proceed with the roasting and then remove as much of the seedy pulp after roasting, before adding them to the sauce.
- This dish really shines when using different varieties of tomatoes
- If after cooking, your eggplant has absorbed all the liquid and the dish has become too thick, stir in a splash of water to loosen it back up.