Photo: Justin Covington
Photo: Justin Covington
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Eggplant: The Next Generation

In Israel, old recipes are deconstructed and transformed into something new

by
Joan Nathan
November 20, 2017
Photo: Justin Covington
Photo: Justin Covington

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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Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.

The Recipe


Roasted Eggplant with Raw Tahini and Date Jam

Roasted Eggplant with Raw Tahini and Date Jam

Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.