Kashk-e Bademjan (Smoked Eggplant Dip with Whey)
I came to Sydney in 2008 to do my masters degree, where I was living until my recent relocation to Melbourne. I never considered myself much of a cook back home in Tehran, but living away from my native metropolis, I’ve found myself slaving away in the kitchen more often, reproducing my favourite Persian dishes- such as Kashk-e Bademjan.
400g kashk (whey paste)
4 large eggplants
1 tablespoon oil, plus extra for frying
1 large onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon dried mint
1) Using a small knife, poke a few holes in each eggplant. To smoke the eggplant, place them directly over a gas flame on your stovetop (lined with foil to minimise the mess) or in an oven at 190C. Turn each eggplant with tongs occasionally until the skin is blackened all over. Remove from the heat and place in a plastic bag to steam and cool slightly, then peel skin and slice off the green tops and discard. Alternatively, you can slice the eggplant and fry the slices on both side in oil, then mash up the flesh, although you won’t get the same level of smoky flavour.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot over medium-low heat, then add onion and fry until golden. Add the eggplant to the onion, then use a stick blender to completely puree the eggplant mixture (alternatively, cool slightly, puree in the blender, then return to the pan). Turn heat to medium and add all of the kashk except for one tablespoon, which you’ll reserve for decoration. Finely chop 4 of the garlic cloves and slice the remaining 2 cloves. Add the chopped garlic to the pot and let cook for 15 minutes.
3) In a small pan, fry the sliced garlic in oil, then remove with a slotted spoon. Dry toast the dried mint in a separate pan until fragrant.
4) Dissolve the kashk for decoration in 1/2 cup (125ml) of water, then place in a pan over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Dissolve a little saffron in a spoonful of hot water and reserve for decorating.
5) When ready to serve, place eggplant dip into a bowl, then decorate with drizzles of the kashk, topped with more drizzles of the saffron water. Garnish with the mint and fried garlic.
For more on Sahar’s story and Persian cuisine, see our feature story here