I discovered this beautiful pepper flake in my cookbook travels – Urfa chili flakes from Turkey and then perused the internet and cookbooks trying to find ways of using it in recipes. This recipe is from Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun. I have made baba ganouj, a middle eastern eggplant dip with tahini paste, many times. The smoky eggplant puree posted here is a Turkish variation on that eggplant dip theme, using Urfa chili flakes. In combination with smoked sea salt, the flavour of the eggplant becomes slightly spicy and smoky, and beautifully garnished with pine nuts for taste and a soft crunchiness. The Urfa pepper flakes have a rich dark brown colour with red flecks and has an earthy, smoky, not-too-spicy flavour. Leaving the flakes grainy instead of ground gives an exotic touch to any dish.
Boil a large pot of water and add peeled and cubed eggplant with a tablespoon of salt. Lower the temperature and cook at a simmer for 20 minutes until the eggplant is soft. Drain in a colander.
Organize the rest of the ingredients: lemon juice, olive oil, Greek yogurt, crushed garlic and smoked salt.
After pureeing the eggplant with the lemon juice, olive oil, smoked salt, yogurt and garlic in a food processor, empty contents into a bowl and stir in the Urfa chilies and toasted pine nuts.
The finished product is now ready to garnish and serve with an additional sprinkling of pine nuts and more Urfa chilies.
Serve with your favourite cracker or pita wedge. A delight to the eyes and the palate. Enjoy.
Smoky Eggplant with Pine Nuts and Urfa Pepper
2 eggplants, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 tbsp. salt
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt
1 tsp. smoked salt
1 tsp. finely minced garlic (about 1 large clove)
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tsp. Urfa chilies, plus a pinch for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the eggplant and the salt to the boiling water. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook at a brisk simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the eggplant is soft and translucent. Drain in a colander.
- In a food processor, puree the eggplant with the yogurt, smoked salt, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.
- Place the eggplant mixture into a bowl and stir in the pine nuts and Urfa chilies. Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with some extra pine nuts and Urfa chilies for garnish.
- Serve with pita or crackers.