From bulbous and egg-shaped, to small and thin, the eggplant (or if you’re British like me, the aubergine) is a staple fruit within Jewish-Sephardic cooking. Originating in India or perhaps even China, eggplant seeds are thought to have traveled along the Silk Road into the hands of Jews and Arabs as early as the eighteenth century. From there, eggplant has been used so often in Jewish cooking some refer to is as the “Jewish apple.”
Today, eggplant is enjoying a wonderful resurgence, particularly in Israel where eggplant is commonly enjoyed in countless salads or served whole and roasted topped with meat, tabbouleh, and often gobs of nutty tahini. No meal in Israel seems complete without a portion of smoky, roasted eggplant.
That’s not to say that’s all that can be done with eggplant. In fact, it is incredibly versatile and can be stewed, stuffed, pickled, roasted, or grilled. Historically known for its bitterness, modern varieties don’t necessarily require salting, although I always do just in case any bitterness remains, and especially when grilling, as this will reduce the amount of oil that is soaked up.
In this recipe I serve eggplant with a North-African spice paste called chermoula which is herby, rich, and pungent. Chermoula is a fantastic North African sauce that’s begging to be made when the weather is warm and the plates move outside. This marvelous mixture of coriander, parsley, chili, paprika, garlic, cumin, and olive oil is a Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian mainstay. While it is traditionally served with fish, I love it with grilled meats, fish, veggies, or even couscous.
Source: Jewish Living