As promised (to several of you, in fact), here is my Kashk-e Bademjan recipe. But first, let me say a few things about this delicious dippy-spready-goodness.
- I'm not posting a picture because, frankly, there is no way to make this stuff pretty. It's just... unattractive. As is so much Persian food. It's tan-brown sludge. But hot damn, does it taste good.
- Kashk is critical for this recipe. It's a thick whey product that's really only found in Middle Eastern markets. I've heard it referred to as "caramelized yogurt", "cream of whey", and other random things. I don't think any of those is actually accurate. But for the life of me, I haven't a clue as to how they thicken the whey to where it really is a paste.
Don't try to substitute yogurt in this dish (or in Ash-e Reshte, which also requires kashk). The taste is entirely different. If you can't find kashk locally, let me know and I'll try to help you find some. I did find a place that sells dried kashk, but I'm not sure about the quality.
- 8 small eggplants, peeled
- 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions
- 2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped (dried mint also works here)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 10 oz. kashk
- In a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil, fry the eggplants in a heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat until softened. (You can make this more healthful by roasting the eggplants in their skins until they collapse; peel, then proceed as below)
- Remove the eggplant from the pot, and fry the onions until golden brown.
- Remove all but two tablespoon of the onions from the pot, and add the mint. Continue to fry until the mint is fragrant, and the onions are medium-dark brown and starting to crisp a bit. Remove and set aside; these will be used for garnish.
- Return the onions and eggplants to the pot. Add the tomato paste with 1/3 c. of water and season lightly with salt & pepper (the kashk is fairly salty, so be judicious).
- Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, mash the eggplants until slightly smoothed, but still nicely textured.
- Add one cup of kashk, stirring briskly to incorporate. Re-season, if necessary.
- Garnish with the remaining kashk and the fried onion/mint mixture.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with pita or lavash bread.