Garlicky Eggplant and Tomato Spread (Mirza Ghasemi) from 'The New Persian Kitchen'


[Photograph: Sara Remington]

Eggplants and tomatoes are far from strangers. Whether baked gently in a ratatouille or simmered in a rich pasta sauce a la Norma, these friends blend seamlessly in many cuisines. This super garlicky eggplant and tomato dip in Louisa Shafia's cookbook The New Persian Kitchen is no exception.

Adding a new layer of complexity, however, is the inclusion of eggs, which thicken and bulk up what would otherwise be a glorified tomato sauce. The eggs transform the vegetables into a spread equally at home on a crudite platter, in a pita sandwich, or dolloped atop a warm bowl of rice.

Why I picked this recipe: Eggs? In an eggplant dip? I had to try it!

What worked: Evocative of both baba ganoush and ratatouille, the flavors in this dish were both familiar and foreign; and the end result indeed made for an equally good appetizer or light meal.

What didn't: My eggs curdled a bit (despite tempering them). Next time, I'll add them to the mixture with the burner off and let the residual heat cook them through.

Suggested tweaks: Shafia suggests using canned tomatoes instead of fresh should you not want to peel them yourself; the canned variety is also useful before tomatoes come into season. The dip does improve after an overnight rest. Reheat very gently over low heat, or let it come to room temperature on the counter before serving.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The New Persian Kitchen to give away this week.