Aubergines are fantastic and the global love for them can be well charted on the spice route from Italy through to Asia, Iran and right through to China. I like them all shapes and sizes, baked, grilled and fried... Spicy, garlicky or herby, I just can't get enough. Whether you call them aubergine or eggplant, these dark and curvy beauties make a great meal.
Fortunately, aubergines have now been cultivated so they are no longer bitter making the 'salting' of aubergines no longer necessary. We Persians have such varied aubergine recipes, but one of my favourites is called 'Kashk-e-Bademjan'. Kashk is simply, whey; which is the remaining liquid after milk has been curdled and strained and 'Bademjan' just means aubergine and this dish is a classic way to start a meal in any Persian restaurant, perfect for starters or even a veggie main course.
Persian Aubergine and Whey (Kashk-e-Bademjan)
4 large aubergines, peel and chop into 1-2 inch squared chunks
3 small onions, diced or thinly sliced into half moons (your choice entirely)
Whey (available from Persian / Middle Eastern supermarkets)
In a large preheated pan over a medium-high heat (or medium if using gas) add some oil and slowly caramelise you onions (if they are burning, turn the temperature down) Then add your aubergines to the pan (at this stage you may need to add more oil) and stir the mix well making sure the onions are evenly incorporated. As aubergines act like a sponge for oil, I tend to add a few tablespoons of hot water and cover the pan with a tight lid so the mixture is partially steaming as well as frying, but that's up to you. Add more oil if you wish. Stir the aubergines every 8minutes until they are golden brown. Once the mix is fully cooked and nice and brown, add in your whey Whey is quite salty so I like to drizzle enough to cover the top layer of my aubergines (usually about 4 tablespoons) and then mix it well. Remember you can always add, but you can never take away! Many Persians prefer to serve the aubergine and caramelised onion mix in a flat dish and simply drizzle the whey generously on top so you have a bit of sweet and a bit of salt. Serve it however you like, but for heaven's sake serve it with bread! Preferably Persian naan flatbread, otherwise toasted pittas or Lebanese flat bread are also great!