When you think of fall, you imagine the changing of the seasons. Here in the U.S. this means the end of warm summer nights and the beginning of cool fall evenings. But in San Diego, summer lingers a little longer. We often have hot and dry Octobers which finds us in the heart of fire season.
So while everyone else is enjoying hot stews and warm bowls of soup in cool weather, we are still grilling, enjoying ice cream and keeping cool with cold delights.
With the drought this year, we did not plant too much in our summer vegetable garden. Instead, I will reminisce about the eggplant and tomatoes we enjoyed in summers past. During these last few weeks of warm weather, many Southern California gardens are still producing summer produce.
That is why this year, to celebrate fall and Mehregan (the Persian fall holiday), I decided to keep things on the cooler side.
Persians absolutely adore eggplant, and I do, too. Don’t let the texture prevent you from enjoying these flavorful vegetables. I no longer purchase the fat, American eggplant you find in the grocery stores. I prefer the smaller eggplant varieties: Italian, Japanese and even the little round baby eggplants. Their skin is thinner and edible.
Last year, I grew those white beauties, Ghost Eggplants, pictured above. Now that is fitting for this October month, right?
Today’s dish, Persian Yogurt with Eggplant Dip (Borani-e Bademjoon), is a wonderful appetizer to serve with lavash or pita wedges. Whichever variety of eggplant you use, you can fry or bake your eggplant. Since eggplant soaks up a lot of oil, I prefer to bake it, especially since it will be mashed afterwards and mixed with the other ingredients.
My mother-in-law decorated and garnished the final dish for the picture. She has patient and delicate hands compared to my clumsy, chunky hands. It is garnished with dried mint and dried rose petals. Gorgeous isn’t it?
Want more yogurt inspiration? How about Persian Yogurt with Cucumbers?
And here’s a video tutorial on how to make yogurt:
- 2 lb eggplant
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, sliced thinly
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 cup yogurt
- 1 1/4 tsp dried mint (optional)
- 1/8 tsp crushed saffron, dissolved with 1 TBS hot water (optional)
- 2 TBS finely chopped walnuts
- 1 TBS dried crushed rose petals
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Wash eggplant and poke with a fork several times.
- Place eggplants on oven rack and bake until done, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size and thickness of your eggplant. Be sure to put a tray underneath the eggplants to catch drips.
- Remove eggplants from oven and allow to cool. Once cool enough to touch, cut in half and scoop out and mash the soft flesh. Reserve in a bowl.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil and sliced onions.
- When onions start to soften, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until onions brown and caramelize, about 30 minutes.
- Mix mashed eggplant into the onions along with garlic, salt, pepper and 1/4 tsp mint.
- Cover and cook for 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Mix yogurt with eggplant mixture.
- Transfer dip into serving bowl.
- Garnish with 1 tsp mint, saffron water, walnuts and rose petals.
Serving Suggestions: Serve with pita bread, chips and/or an assortment of vegetables.
Cooking Tips: Traditionally, middle-eastern yogurt is thick and a little sour. If you can not find authentic middle-eastern yogurt, you may need to adjust the seasonings.
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Serving Size:1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 171 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 5mg Sodium: 638mg Carbohydrates: 22g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 11g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 6g