Monday, January 31, 2011

Eggplant Salad from Romania - Salata de Vinete

Eggplant has been popular in almost all the cuisines around the world.You roast it,make gravies or fritters or stirfries,it enhances the dish. Roasted eggplant especially has found various uses across cuisines.Be it the Indian Baingan bharta where it is mixed with onion-tomato-spices gravy or Turkish patlican salatasi where roasted eggplant is mixed with yoghurt and olive oil or Arab baba ghanoush or Muhammara where roasted eggplant is mixed with spices or  salata de vinete the Romanian and even Hungarian style salad or spread.

 Here grilled or roasted eggplant is peeled,mashed and added with onions and sunflower oil to obtain the salad which is then served as an appetizer spread.The mashing or handling of eggplant is done with a wooden or plastic knofe /spoon as there is a popular belief in Romania that metal spoon may blacken the eggplant!. Well, the salad or the spread turned out to be good and here it is.I have adapted this from this blog post though have also referenced several google mentions

Eggplant: 1 roasted/grilled

Onions: finely minced/grated: 2-3 tbsp
Sunflower oil: 4 tbsp +
Salt: as per taste
Lemon Juice: 1/2 tsp

Roast the eggplant either in the oven or directly on the gas or in a pan(grill). Allow them to cool a bit and then peel them. Make sure you remove all the charred skin. Then cut the flesh into half, lightly salt them and allow them to drain all the juices for atleast 1 hour.

Once drained,mash the flesh with a wooden spoon. Rememebr ,the belief - metal blackens the eggplant!. Er, I used normal ladle,it did not blacken,but I am no Romanian to comment.Anyway,mash the flesh manually or using a blender to get a fine paste.

Start drizzling oil and fold in as much as possible, just as you would do for a pesto or while making mayo. Here I added little oil,folded it in,repeated the process. The eggplant changes colour and almost doubles in volume. Mine became almost 1.5 times. The quantity of oil depends on you. You can keep on adding oil to get a silky smooth paste. 

Foldin finely minced onion,a dash of lemon juice and adjust the salt.Serve as a spread. Traditionally it is served with bread and tomatoes and roasted red peppers. I made bread canapes wherein I spread bread circles with the salad and topped with tomato slices. 

It was like biting into low spicy baingan bharta. But it felt great and different. Rather than going for typical spreads this has earthy taste to it and I feel it was filling as well.You can add pepper to spice it up as well. Also instead of drizzling oil,you can add light mayonnaise though I presume it masks the smoky eggplant taste.

Anyway this along with Waldorf salad is off to Only Salads at Prathibha's, an event by Pari.
This also finds its way to DNSW: E at Akilas where it joins all the dishes whose name start with E.


Priya Suresh said...

I would like to cook as u do Sweatha, salad looks fabulous..

Adele said...

I've been reading about smoky eggplant puree a few times now, and I'm dying to make it. Thanks for telling us about the Romanian wooden spoon belief. I love learning interesting little facts like this.

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