While sitting by the swimming pool at the stunning Elma Arts Complex Luxury Hotel, high up on Mount Carmel and overlooking the Mediterranean, I spied a promising eggplant dish whisked by in a server’s hand. Always on the search for good eggplant recipes—especially in Israel, the epicenter of eggplant, because the climate is perfect for its cultivation—I asked the server to bring that dish for lunch. It arrived roasted, in the shape of an accordion, similar to that of the hotel-music complex, which is known for its Israel Prize-winning design by Yaakov Rechter. The dish tasted exactly as we hoped: smoky, soft, and seductive.
Eggplant has been a staple of Jewish cuisine since the eighth century, when so many eggplant dishes existed in Spain that a Catalonian song listed seven different variations. Typically served roasted or sautéed into dips and salads to start the Sabbath meal, eggplant has long been used in iconic Jewish dishes like eggplant caviar and Sicilian Jewish-style eggplant. It has been especially popular in Israel since its creation, when recipes from the diaspora came to the Jewish State. This recipe, a play on classic baba ganoush, is an example of modernizing traditional recipes and transforming them into the next generation of eggplant dishes.
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