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Smoked eggplant salad (Mkhabasa)

Eggplant is a staple in the Middle East and Mediterranean, and the variety of ways it can be cooked is infinite. This dish belongs to the group that includes baba ghanoush, mutabal and other dips and spreads.

Mkhabasa means "busy" and that is exactly what this dish is. It is a lovely but crazy mix of ingredients, full of different colours and textures. The roasted eggplant is at its core and accented with earthy walnuts, fresh red and yellow bell peppers and sweet-tart pomegranate molasses. The flavours explode on your palate making this dip very addictive. Although it is a salad, I prefer to serve it as a dip with cruditès.

I have been growing fascinated with Syrian cuisine, and have been slowly adding cookbooks to my library. Our Syria is one of those beautiful cookbooks that immerses you in a new world of exquisite cuisine and a beautiful culture. The recipes are simple but always turn out gorgeous and fabulous. The authors travelled back to households in Syria to assemble these recipes, learning from home cooks and local chefs. The book is as much a cultural journey through Syria as a cookbook, filled with anecdotes and history.

For more recipes from this book, click here.



Ingredients:

2 medium purple eggplants

1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced

1/2 yellow bell pepper

1/2 tomato, finely diced

3 tablespoons parsley, minced

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


For the crudite1s:

Carrots

Cucumbers

White radish

Zucchini

Celery

Raw beets

Cauliflower

Broccoli


Pita bread

Crackers

Breadsticks

Others that come to your imagination.


Pierce the eggplants a couple of times with a fork and roast in the oven at 375 F for 45 minutes or on the grill. When soft and charred in spots, remove the eggplant and allow to cool. Scoop the soft roasted eggplant flesh from the skin and mash well in a bowl.


Mix the rest of the ingredients into the eggplant and allow the flavours to come together for at least 3 hours, This dip definitely tastes better the next day.


Serve at room temperature with the cruditès.

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