When most of us think of a Middle Eastern eggplant appetizer, baba ghanoush comes to mind. Although it’s a fantastic dip, my favorite Middle Eastern eggplant dish is the lesser-known ikra. The recipe for ikra varies from household to household, and even within a household! My dad grills the vegetables for this dish, while my mom broils them. I am a novice on the barbecue, so I usually prepare this my mom’s way. I love the smoky flavors complemented by subtle sweetness from the tomatoes. Traditionally ikra is served with pita bread, but I often eat it by itself or with sliced cucumbers.
3 medium eggplants
1 green bell pepper
1–2 serrano peppers
6 tomatoes, deep red and flavorful
½ medium onion
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp/30 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp/30 ml fresh lemon juice
1 tsp/5 g sea salt
½ tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F/177°C. Pierce each eggplant in several places with a fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until soft (about 1 hour), turning over once. Allow eggplant to cool. Once cooled cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh and place it in a medium-sized bowl. Discard the peel. Change oven setting to broil. Place peppers, tomatoes and onion under the broiler for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Allow to cool. Peel the skin from the tomatoes and peppers. In a food processor mix eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 3 hours to allow spread to cool and flavors to meld.