“Georgian Nutty Eggplant” Recipe
There’s a Georgian recipe I love making as an appetizer: it’s so easy to make ahead of time and it’s a dish that leaves people puzzling over the ingredients. Badrijani nigvzit means something like “nutty eggplant,” and it’s quite a fitting description. This walnut paste is spread onto thin slices of eggplant, and it’s marvelously satisfying.
Here’s my take on the recipe:
- 1 eggplant
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp marigold. (If marigold isn’t available, then soaking 1-2 strands of saffron in a few drops of white wine vinegar will work just fine.)
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- A handful of pomegranate seeds
- Salt to taste
Wash the eggplant and cut into thin lengthwise strips. Arrange the slices on a plate, sprinkle them with salt and set aside to “sweat” for an hour. After an hour, squeeze the slices dry between sheets of paper towels and lightly sear in a pre-heated frying pan with a dollop of oil. Place the seared eggplant slices on a plate to cool.
To make the paste, place the walnuts, garlic cloves, coriander seeds, marigold or saffron, cilantro and half of the olive oil into a food processor and blend until the ingredients have achieved a rough, yet consistent texture. If needed, add the remaining olive oil slowly – the walnut paste should be moist and spreadable, but not runny. Add salt to taste.
When the desired consistency is achieved, spread the mixture onto the cooled slices of eggplant and place 3-4 pomegranate seeds on each slice. Roll up the slices lengthwise so the “clean” side of the eggplant is facing and place one pomegranate seed on top. Arrange on a plate and cool for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Serve as an appetizer.
(Top photo credit: Devin Connolly, the author of this recipe, with a polyphonic singing ensemble in Georgia.)
PUBLISHED: November 17, 2014