How often are you asked, "What's for dinner?" or as they say in Persian, "Sham chi darim?" My guess is that this must be the most frequently asked question since the beginning of time or perhaps since the discovery of fire! If confronted by the question, especially on a day that you weren't thinking about bringing out the pots and pans from their nicely tucked away shelf, then you may decide to go out to dinner, order take out, serve cheese and bread, go to bed hungry or try to cook an
easy yet scrumptious dinner with ingredients you already have in your pantry and refrigerator.
In a time like this, eggplants come in handy. They are so versatile. You can fry, grill, roast and pickle.They come through when you need them and never disappoint. The great thing about this eggplant dish, besides its wonderful taste, is that it doesn't absorb a ton of oil. Grilled eggplant kookoo with leeks and sliced tomatoes as toppings is the sixth kookoo/kuku recipe that I'm posting so I suppose it is obvious by now that I am a big fan of kookoo.
Bademjan - Eggplant Kookoo
5 medium-size eggplants, washed and wiped
1 large leek, washed, trimmed, thinly sliced into rounds (white and light green parts)
1 medium onion, peeled, thinly sliced
1 bunch of parsley, washed, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 teaspoon red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons walnuts,chopped *optional
2-3 small tomatoes, washed, sliced *optional
- Pierce the eggplants with a fork or a sharp knife in several places.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the eggplants for 30-40 minutes.
- Remove from heat and place in the colander to let the eggplant's bitter liquid out.
- Once the eggplants are cooled, separate the skin and chop them and set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions until golden brown.
- Add turmeric, stir, add garlic, saute for 2-3 more minutes and add the sliced leeks. Saute for an additional 5 more minutes or until the leeks are soft and tender. Sprinkle a dash of salt and add the walnuts and the chopped parsley. Give it a good stir and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggplants, leek and parsley mixture, egg, red pepper, flour and salt. Mix thoroughly.
- Lightly grease the bottom of the baking pan. Pour in the mixture and flatten the surface. Garnish with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cover with aluminum foil and cook in the 350 degrees Fahrenheit pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 20 minutes of cooking.
- You may put the kookoo under the broiler for an additional 4-5 minutes or slightly longer to roast the top until it is well-cooked.
It doesn't matter where I am.
The sky is always mine.
Windows, ideas, air, love,
earth, all mine.
Why does it matter if sometimes
the mushrooms of nostalgia grow?
~Poem by Sohrab Sepehri
~Translated by: Mahvash Shahegh