Some of my fondest memories of Iran involve food. Being in the kitchen and seeing how my grandmother would make a stew, smelling my aunt’s saffron rice and awaiting a skewer of famous ‘kubideh’ kebabs are just wonderful memories. The cuisine of Iran is beautiful, being full of spices and herbs, such as cardamon, turmeric and mint.
One particular ingredient that can always be found in the Persian kitchen is the aubergine. It is an essential part of the cuisine in Iran, being found in many starter and main dishes. The way the aubergine is cooked is to typically bake it, unlike the west, where we would usually fry an aubergine. In Iran, the skin of the aubergine is usually removed and when cooked, the flesh of the vegetable becomes ever so soft and has a luxurious texture.
Kashk-e badejan is by far my favourite Persian starter dish and one of my favourite Persian dishes. Kashk-e badejan is a grilled aubergine dip containing a variety of ingredients, such as fried onions and whey. The sound of the whey might put you off, but believe me, the way it is cooked with the other ingredients, if done properly, is sublime.
With the kashk-e badenjan, you tear up the ‘nun’ (bread) and dip it into the aubergine and just simply enjoy the flavours. I would say any type of typical Iranian bread is suitable here, but ‘taftun’, a crisp bread with a uneven surface is ideal for the action of tearing and scooping.
Kashk-e badejan is a delight of sweet flavours, from the crisp caramelised onions and the hit of whey to the perfect addition of garlic – it all melanges together perfectly. So if you’re looking to try something traditionally Persian that is an all time favourite of the locals, this is it. You won’t ever be frying those aubergines again.
Kashk-e badejan recipe:
- olive oil
- 4 aubergines
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp dried mint
- 2 tbsp kashk
- salt and pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil until really hot, then fry the aubergine until it is soft and golden. Drain using a paper towel.
- Add the onion with a little more oil to the pan and fry until translucent. Add the garlic and fry. Remove the pan from the heat, add the mint and fry briefly in the remaining heat.
- Put the aubergine in a bowl and mash.
- Heat a little more oil in a saucepan and add the aubergine, kashk, the majority of the onion, garlic and mint (keep some later for garnishing), and salt and pepper.
- Warm the ingredients through and combine.
6. Spoon into a serving bowl and top with the remaining onion, garlic and mint. Serve warm.