If you are a fan of dips and Iranian cuisine then look no further than the Kashke Bademjan, one of the most popular dips in Persian cuisine. The star of this dip is the bademjan, Persian for eggplant. As for Kashke, it is a type of yogurt whey. In the process of making cheese, the remaining liquid after milk has been strained is called whey. I opted out of the kashke as I preferred to make mine vegan-friendly but by all means go ahead and add the dollop of kashke at the end to make for a creamier dip. You can also sprinkle some crushed walnuts too in the end for the extra texture.
The kashke bademjan, while not difficult to make, does however require a lot of patience. This part is required for caramelising the onions. Too high a heat will simply burn the onions so one must slowly simmer the onions on low heat. Caramelising onions is the best way to pull flavour out of the simplest ingredients. You know your onions are caramelised when you see them transform into a soft, golden hue colour.
Now for the most expensive spice in the market: saffron. One of the reasons behind this high price is the fact that this plant cannot be found except in a handful of places. Hence, saffron has been nicknames the red gold. While saffron can come from a few countries such as Spain and Egypt, I procured the best from no other country than Iran itself. Simply steep a pinch of saffron in a tablespoon or two of hot water to release the flavours and intensity in colour.
Kashe Badejaman (Persian Eggplant Dip)
PREP TIME: 10 min | COOK TIME: 40 min | TOTAL TIME: 50 min | YIELDS: 6 persons as appetiser
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons dried mint
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons of hot water
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven at 200C. Cut the eggplant in halves lengthwise. Then cut each into half width-wise. Lay on roasting tray and spray or brush olive oil with sprinkle of salt on the exposed eggplant surface. Once oven is hot, shove the tray inside the oven. The eggplants should take about 30-40 minutes to soften. For the last 10 minutes I like to turn on the broiler to impart a ‘smokier’ flavour for the eggplants.
- Caramelise the onions in the meantime. Heat pan on low-medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Throw in the sliced onions and let it cook on low heat (don’t turn it up too high or it’l’l burn) while stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking or burning. Slowly the onions will caramelise and take on a golden hue colour. Heads up as this may take up to 40 minutes.
- Once onions are down, remove the onions to a plate or bowl. In the same pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and throw in the sliced garlic with dried mint, saffron water and lemon juice. Stir for 45 seconds until the garlic takes on a golden colour.
- Take eggplants out of the oven and remove the skin by peeling. Mash the eggplant with a masher or two forks.
- Throw the eggplant mixture into the pan with the garlic. Add in the caramelised ovens and generous sprinkling of salt and pepper and turmeric to taste. Cook gently on low heat altogether for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and let cool to room temperature before serving.