My friend Jayne invited me to a cooking demo – to my surprise we were handed an apron, so much for watching someone else cook do the cooking. Our instructor was Galya Sarner, Director of the Israeli-Canadian Project. Galya was born in Jerusalem, her parents from Baghdad and Israel, later in life Gayla lived in Paris with her husband before moving to Toronto. She shared with us her many stories about the joys of shopping for fresh ingredients in the local markets. The menu for the evening reflected this – a unique mix of influences from markets in Bagdad, Israel and Paris in what she calls ‘Jewish-Iraqi comfort food with a French twist’.
Now it was time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. She had a ‘market’ spread out for us with all the foods we would need. Thirty of us, all cooking together, gathered up eggplants, dried fruit, fresh herbs, and got to work. One hour later we were eating a feast of Kichree, Labane, Kubbe, Sabich and more. This eggplant dish was my favourite. I have added my own touch with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, which is a good substitution if you can’t find fresh pomegranates or use both like I did.
Eggplant 'Baladi' with Tahini Sauce
Ingredients for the Eggplant:
- 2 Eggplants
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 pomegranate
- handful of chopped parsley
Ingredients for the Tahini:
- 1/2 cup of raw Tahini
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
Ingredients for Pomegranate Molasses:
- 2 cups pure 100% pomegranate juice
- 2 tbsp honey
Directions for cooking Eggplant:
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Slice eggplant lengthwise and sprinkle with salt and pepper on the inside part of the eggplant.
- Bake face down on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or tin foil.
- Broil for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is black on the outside and very soft on the inside.
Directions for the Tahini:
- In a large bowl, mix the tahini, water, garlic and lemon juice.
- Keep mixing until the mixture is very smooth.
- Taste and adjust, you may need more water or lemon.
Direction for the Pomegranate Molasses:
- In a large, uncovered saucepan, heat pomegranate juice and honey on medium high until the honey has dissolved and the juice simmers.
- Reduce heat just enough to maintain a simmer.
- Simmer for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the juice has a syrupy consistency and has reduced to about half.
- Once cooled, pour into a glass jar.
- Any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.
If you want your pomegranate molasses to be sweeter, add more honey to taste while you are cooking it.
How to serve:
Place eggplant on a platter, drizzle tahini, then the pomegranate molasses, pomegranate seeds and a handful of chopped fresh parsley. Eat with pita, a baguette or challah.