While in St Petersburg I ate this amazing walnut dip wrapped in eggplant. I’ve scoured the net for a recipe and tried different versions. To be authentic, ground marigold leaves are added for colour but the ones I ate didn’t have the tell-tale golden hue. Traditionally vinegar is used instead of lemon juice but there are also recipes that use pomegranate juice for the acidity. Like all family recipes of popular dishes, everyone has their “secret”. No secrets – this is mine!
Badrijani nigvzit (eggplant with walnut dip)
2 eggplants (aubergines) or buy pre-grilled eggplant slices
1 cup walnuts
1 tab chopped coriander
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic
Juice 1 lemon (or 1 tab of vinegar)
3/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper
1 tab chopped parsley
If cooking eggplant, cut into 1 centimetre sliced lengthwise. Freshly picked eggplants don’t need salting but if older need to be sprinkled with salt to draw out the bitter juices. Leave for 10 minutes then pat off the juice. Brush eggplants with olive oil and place under a hot grill or even better, a barbecue. They’ll only need a couple of minutes, turn when becoming golden. Alternatively you can buy pre-cooked eggplant slices from some delis and supermarkets. Pat off the excess oil before using.
For the walnut dip, blend all the other ingredients. Lastly add the water a tablespoon at a time until you have a smooth paste. You want a dip-like texture but not too runny. Salt to taste. The predominant flavour is garlicky walnuts with a bit of a chili kick at the end. I use Korean red pepper powder left over from kimchi making and it works well. As herbs strengths vary, always taste and adjust the flavour as needed.
Take the grilled eggplant slices and place a heaped teaspoon of walnut dip at one end and roll. Traditionally the eggplant/walnut rolls are garnished with pomegranate seeds and served as finger foods with drinks.
This recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian.
These eggplant rolls make a healthy and tasty starter or finger food – for omnis, vegans and vegetarians alike
This recipe first appeared in the December 2012 newsletter. If you’d like a delicious recipe, healthy article and thought-provoking links in your inbox each month, add your email address to the free sign-up.