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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!
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 along with 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.
Read more: Ratatouille Recipe
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.
Read more: Confit Byaldi Recipe
3. Baba Ganoush
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, and zesty lemon juice, along with 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.
Read more: Baba Ganoush Recipe
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.
Read more: Moussaka Recipe
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, sauteed onion, and tomato paste. Every household has its own recipe and slight variations, such as seasoning with bay leaves.
Zacusa 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.
Read more: Zacusca Recipe
Similar to zacusa, 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.
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.
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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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.