Of all the Persian dishes I cook for friends, probably the most popular is kashk-e bademjan. It is the dish that can convert eggplant haters, if not into eggplant lovers, then at least into kashk-e bademjan lovers! We've had it many ways - swimming in oil with large pieces of eggplant (my least favorite) all the way to almost blended. Recently, Hallie and her boyfriend took on the challenge of cooking this for a class project. I provided oversight and entertainment (see below) but they did the work.
The recipe we make is large but it is intentional - it uses the entire jar of kashk which otherwise ends up going to waste.
4 large eggplants, peeled and sliced 1/3-1/2" thick
up to 1 1/2 cups water
2 1/2-3 T. tomato paste concentrate (from tube)
16 oz jar kashk
2 tsp salt
2 onion, very finely diced
8-10 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
Put the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet that is covered with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Spray both sides of the eggplant and put it under the broiler and cook (turning over once the first side is browned) until it is well browned and soft - falling apart. As you finish a sheet of eggplant, place it into a pot on the stove.
Once all the eggplant is in the pot, add some water (about 1/2 cup). Cook over a low heat, adding a little water at a time until it gets incorporated. I like to break up the eggplant so that there are no huge pieces (a key element if you're using this to convert an eggplant hater). Add about 2 - 3 tablespoons tomato paste concentrate. You want this to be thick, not soupy, so don't add too much water.
Once the eggplant is thoroughly cooked and blended with the water and tomato paste it is time to add the kashk. You can find kashk at Middle East markets or online. It has a unique tartness to it that is difficult to replicate with any other product. I've made a vegan version of this recipe and posted it in the past here but kashk is important for an authentic taste.
Finally, the topping. Start browning the finely diced onion in a little bit of oil. Once it starts to brown add the garlic and keep stirring until everything is very dark and well browned. It's a bit of work to cut the onion small enough but entirely worth the effort. If you are bothered by all that chopping Hallie has come up with a good approach ;-)
Once everything is done spread the eggplant into a dish (we used two pie plates) and sprinkle with the onion and garlic. It is a tradition in our family (albeit a weird one) to put the onion/garlic combo on the eggplant in some kind of design - it is usually some kind of inside joke or holiday theme (e.g. a Christmas tree). Here's what they decided on
We serve this with lavosh or for a gluten free option, corn tortillas. I also make a very quick and easy gluten free flat bread that is good with this - I'll post it one of these days.