What it is: Zaalouk is a traditional Moroccan salad made of eggplant and tomatoes, cooked to a puree. “It’s an authentic Moroccan dish that can be served hot or cold, says Chef Khalid Kamal, owner of Shokran in Irving Park.
Where it comes from: “Salads” in Moroccan cuisine describe a whole range of cooked vegetable dishes that Americans might describe as dips or relishes, and similar eggplant salads are found throughout the Mediterranean. Compare, for instance, Sicily’s caponata. Eggplants originated in India more than 4,000 years ago and spread to the Mediterranean and Africa from there. They were in common use in that region by the 9th century, but the tomatoes in this dish date it to after the discovery of the New World, and it likely came to Morocco from the Ottoman Empire.
What to do with it: “It’s a common side dish to many meals,” Kamal says, “and usually served as a dip with crusty bread.”
Moroccan eggplant salad
Chef Khalid Kamal
2 medium size eggplants
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon diced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Bake the eggplants in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes. Peel the skin off and discard. Dice the remaining eggplant.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and garlic. Mix well, then stir in the paprika, salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the diced eggplant, cilantro and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes. Serve hot or chilled.