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Eggplant Recipes from Around the World

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If you love its rich, meaty flavor and fibrous, creamy texture when cooked, my eggplant recipes from around the world will give you lots of fun and interesting ways to enjoy this renowned purple vegetable.

Our journey takes us from the snow-capped European mountains of winter to the bustling food markets in the searing heat of the Middle East. These dishes all have historical and emotional connections to their respective cuisines and use eggplant in so many creative, humble, and flavorful ways.

Be sure to bookmark this page because, in time, I will continue to add more eggplant recipes from countries all over the world. For now, let’s embark on a purple-themed culinary adventure of creamy, crispy, sizzling, and searing proportions!

Eggplant dishes
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Ratatouille

Ratatouille
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Our tour begins in the rural villages of Provence and a dish that, while today has plenty of stardom, started out with very humble beginnings: ratatouille.

Traditionally, this vegetable stew was made from leftover ingredients. It typically includes eggplant as well as zucchini, garlic, bell pepper, and onions, in addition to plenty of herbs.

Rich and somewhat creamy, with sweet, earthy, fresh, and caramelized notes, my ratatouille recipe is inspired by the traditional rustic dish and not the variation of Michel Guérard’s ratatouille made by Thomas Keller, confit byaldi, which was featured in the Disney Pixar classic Ratatouille in 2007 (see below).

Serve it with crusty French bread and fresh herbs for a stew that nourishes as much as it comforts.

Ratatouille Recipe

Confit Byaldi

Confit Byaldi
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Very much the ‘celebrity cousin’ of ratatouille, the confit byaldi-style ratatoutille is the one made famous by Disney Pixar’s Ratatouille.

It was designed by American Thomas Keller while consulting for the film and is inspired by French chef Michel Guérard’s confit byaldi. He is one of the founders of Nouvelle cuisine, which is a style of cooking that focuses on presentation.

Very much the ‘Instagrammable’ version of ratatouille, the dish’s key feature is the top layer of fanned-out vegetable rounds, of which eggplant is one of the vegetables. Once baked, this top layer mesmerizes with its symmetry, spiral arrangement, and bright colors.

Naturally, it takes more time to prepare than traditional ratatouille, but if you want that wow factor at your next dinner party, it’s absolutely worth the time.

Confit Byaldi

Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush
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Baba ganoush will bring some serious creamy and smoky flavor to the table. This spread is a stalwart of not only Lebanese cuisine but other Middle Eastern, North African, and East Mediterranean cuisines.

Traditionally served as part of a meze, baba ganoush is a dip made from the scooped flesh of eggplant roasted over an open flame, hence its smoky notes. It is typically mixed with rich olive oil, earthy tahini, zesty lemon juice, and other seasonings, depending on the region.

Savor its creamy, fibrous texture and rich, sweet, earthy, and smoky taste with pita bread, salads like tabbouleh, spiced lamb and other meats, or as a dip for kebabs and vegetables.

Baba Ganoush

Moussaka

Moussaka
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Over to Greece and Cyprus next for a casserole-style dish that was born out of the Middle East and the Balkans and then made popular by Greek chef Nikolaos Tselementes.

This French-trained chef added a top layer of thick béchamel sauce to make a dish comprising of three key layers. These are, first, a bottom layer of sauteed sliced eggplant, topped with a middle layer of ground meat with spices and vegetables, typically lamb, and finally, a creamy top white layer of béchamel sauce. The layers are created separately, then assembled and baked together.

My recipe uses beef instead of lamb and doesn’t include sliced potato, which is commonly included in many traditional recipes.

The result is a lasagna-style bite that delights a mouthwatering combination of spicy, sweet, earthy, creamy, and meaty galore. Greek-style moussaka is a classic example of the influence one particular person’s spark of creativity can have on a particular dish.

Eggplant Moussaka

Zacusca

Zacusca
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Ask any Romanian or Moldovan about ‘zakuska,’ and they will instantly be transported back to childhood, preparing huge batches of this sweet spread with family to be stored in jars for the winter.

Along with roasted eggplant, zacusca also contains bell peppers, sautéed onion, and tomato paste. Every household has its own recipe and slight variations, such as seasoning with bay leaves.

Zacusca can be stored for months on end and can be enjoyed either hot or cold. Be it spread on crusty bread, spooned onto hot, grilled meats, or served with fluffy potatoes and green salads, this sweet, slightly earthy, and creamy spread has been eaten for generations.

Zacusca Recipe

Ajvar

Ajvar
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Similar to zacusca, ajvar is a sweet relish made from bell peppers and eggplant. It can be found throughout the Mediterranean and the Balkans but was especially popular in Yugoslavia and, today, is prominent in both Serbian and North Macedonian cuisine.

Ajvar has a smooth, creamy consistency, which comes from baking the bell peppers and eggplants and then mixing them together. The likes of garlic, oil, pepper, and sugar can all be added, and the resulting spread has a rich, sweet, and mildly tart flavor, which can be enjoyed in so many ways.

Whether it’s spread generously on thick bread and hearty potatoes in the winter or slathered chilled on your spicy meat kebabs in the heat of summer, the joy of ajvar knows no bounds. A similar dip/spread to ajvar and zacusca is lutenitsa, which you should also try.

Ajvar Recipe

Eggplant ‘Salad’ Dip

Eggplant dip
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No doubt eggplant and bell peppers make for a satisfying pairing, but Eastern Europe and the Balkans also found ways to make eggplant the sole key ingredient in various dishes.

Salata de vinete, or eggplant salad, is arguably the most popular. While called a salad, it is more of a spread, mashing the sweet, creamy, and fibrous flesh of cooked eggplant with zesty lemon, caramelized onions, and other ingredients like the heat of mustard.

A Romanian staple, but also popular in the likes of Moldova and Hungary, eggplant ‘salad’ dip pairs well with meats, salads, or simply enjoyed with some fresh, crusty bread. Another similar dish from the region you should try is this easy chunky oven-roasted eggplant salad spread.

Egpplant ‘Salad’ Dip

The creative, resourceful, and delicious ways people from all over the world use eggplant in foods never ceases to amaze me.

This curated list is just the beginning but can inspire you to use this delicious vegetable in so many ways.

Let me know in the comments if you made any of these dishes at home, what you thought of them, and if you have some favorite eggplant dishes that should be on our list.

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Save and Pin for Later

Keep this curated list of recipes for safekeeping, so that when you have eggplants in the refrigerator or pantry, you can revisit this article and get inspired.

Eggplant Recipes from Around the World (pin)
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Eggplant Recipes from around the world (pin)
© Nomad Paradise

Authors

  • Doina Johnson is a recipe developer and writer. Doina has been cooking for most of her life, and her style draws from many different influences. She cooked with her mother and grandma growing up in Eastern Europe, before adding modern, western influences to her style when living in the United States for about a decade. Then, she traveled full-time for several years, trying food in Europe, Asia, and South America, and bringing those influences into her own cooking. She strives to introduce passionate homecooks to world cuisine, generally by trying the food herself abroad and then recreating it at home and, at times, enlisting the help of local foodies and chefs.

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

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