eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish Recipes

eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish

This is not a recipe for eggplant caviar, but caught up in an adoration of July eggplants too lovely to roast just to grind up, it is loosely inspired by it. If you’re unfamiliar with eggplant caviar, well, you need to come over to my in-law’s where it is never not on the table, or basically anywhere else my mother in-law goes, because she’s not allowed to show up without it. Just to confuse you, there’s also caviar on the table and they have nothing to do with each other, although this is a matter of argument. The Joy of Cooking and others liken eggplant caviar to a “poor man’s caviar,” a tasty substitute for those who could not afford the real stuff, but actual Russians will tell you that caviar was affordable in the Soviet Union and everyone was poor.

what you'll need, plus yogurt

Originally from the Caucasus, versions exist today everywhere from Russia to Greece because it’s delicious although I don’t think you’ll ever find two that are alike. Not for the faint of heart, my mother in-laws version [recipe over here] is aggressively zingy with garlic and vinegar; it should come with a warning, but it’s too much fun to watch newbies arrive at the table and ladle it on, not realizing it was going to taste almost as much like a pickle as it does eggplant.

split
very roasted eggplant
tomato relish or the supporting cast of eggplant caviar

But again, this isn’t eggplant caviar, just a suggestion of it. Instead we’re leaving the roasted or grilled eggplant intact and ladling the other components of the caviar over it, namely garlic and parsley, a piquant tomato relish. A schmear of yogurt underneath provides an enriching buffer zone; a scatter of couscous, if you so desire, makes it a fuller meal. This is one of my favorite kinds of meals, roasted vegetables with “the works” on top. No matter what swaps you make, it’s a great formula for the abundance of roast-able vegetables everywhere right now, so have fun with it.

eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish
eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish

previously

One year ago: Tomato and Fried Provolone Sandwich
Two years ago: Bourbon Slush Punch
Three years ago: Banana Nutella and Salted Pistachio Popsicles
Four years ago: Zucchini Bread Pancakes
Five years ago: Corn Buttermilk and Chive Popovers
Six years ago: Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons
Seven years ago: Peach and Creme Fraiche Pie
Eight years ago: Sauteed Radishes with Sugar Snaps and Dill, Nectarine Mascarpone and Gingersnap Tart and Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte
Nine years ago: Zucchini Bread

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Cabbage and Sausage Casserole
1.5 Years Ago: Fried Egg Salad
2.5 Years Ago: Homemade Dulce De Leche
3.5 Years Ago: Intensely Chocolate Sables
4.5 Years Ago: Potato Chip Cookies

Eggplant with Yogurt and Tomato Relish

  • Servings: 2 to 4
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Traditional ikri (Russian eggplant caviar) uses red peppers and dill, too, but not the one I know so I skip it too. I made a little plain couscous to sprinkle on this so it felt more hearty; it’s tasty here but completely non-essential. You could also serve this over the couscous, or skip it entirely.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds eggplant; I prefer the long, thin variety here but any will do
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (75 grams) dried couscous (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Trim eggplants and cut in half lengthwise; season cut sides with salt and pepper. Coat a large roasting pan with olive oil (1 to 2 tablespoons). Arrange eggplants cut side down; sprinkle with more salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes on the first side, or until brown underneath then flip and roast 5 to 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, make couscous, if using it. Bring 3/4 cup water and a few pinches of salt to a simmer then pour it over dried couscous in a bowl. Cover with a lid or foil and let side for 5 minutes to absorb, then fluff with a fork.

Make tomato relish by pulsing garlic and parsley in a blender or food processor until finely chopped, then add tomatoes and pulse until they’re well chopped. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper or a pinch or two of red pepper flakes and pulse to combine. No food process or blender? Not a problem at all; just mince the garlic and parsley well and finely chop the tomatoes; stir this together with the remaining ingredients. Both methods: taste for seasoning. We like this extra sharp and almost always add 1 more teaspoon vinegar and more salt. The longer it sits, the more potent it gets.

To assemble, schmear each eggplant half with a little yogurt. If you’re using couscous, sprinkle a little on top. Spoon tomato relish over and serve the rest of all the above on the side.

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96 comments on eggplant with yogurt and tomato relish

  1. How interesting: from the recipe title I was expecting something like a dish an Afghan restaurant I used to go to served, but this is rather different, while still having the same basic ingredients. I love all the various ways the Eurasian crossover zone uses eggplant!

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful and mouthwatering recipe! I adore eggplant and I’ll be def. giving this recipe a test drive in my kitchen for tomorrow’s lunch. :)

  3. This seems like a cold version (with yogurt) of the Turkish dish “swooning imam.” It is as good as its name. I like my swooning imam served with rice, to soak up the good lemony, tomato-ey juices, but I have been known to eat the leftovers cold.

  4. Leah

    I planted this kind of eggplant in my garden and they are so sweet and creamy. No doubt this is a great way to prepare them. I have been able to harvest some last week but right now there is a lull. What I do have, though, are tons of zucchini. Would you recommend substituting roasted zucchini to the eggplant? Or will it be better to briefly saute them instead of roasting?

  5. Becky

    This looks fantastic, but it’s just TOO HOT right now to turn on my oven. Do you think the eggplants could be done on the grill outdoors?

  6. Re: the name eggplant caviar, I’ve tried to track down its true origin, and one possible version is that it was first called that (ajvar, from Turkish havyar, which, yes, is where the English word caviar comes from) in the Balkans, as a tongue-in-cheek reference to a heavy Ottoman tax on (real) caviar that prevented ordinary people from producing it themselves. Not that we’ll ever know the truth!

  7. You are just SO spot-on as to timing recipes to the lovely veg coming out of my garden! Planning on grilling pork shoulder tonight, so will add my eggplants to the grill and use the prolific cherry tomatoes, as well! Thanks ever so!

  8. JP

    I can just imagine the bright flavors between the yogurt and the tomato relish. Just what is needed to set off the eggplant. Yum! Thanks, Deb!

  9. Kelsey Lane

    I thought that I was not an eggplant person, but last weekend I made a recipe that roasts it just as this one does. Since I found it to be delicious, this means that I have to try your recipe.

  10. Susan

    Should this be served warm or cold?
    I am assuming cold because of the yogurt but I dont know how eggplant is when cold. I am wondering if i should reheat before i serve.

    1. deb

      Lukewarm or room temperature. I cooled the eggplant for about 10 to 15 minutes before using the yogurt on it. My eggplants, because they’re small, however, also cool pretty fast.

  11. I was born in the USSR, like your husband, and love both types of “ikri”, though for a long time I thought that calling the eggplant stuff ‘caviar’ was just a funny thing my family did. Thanks for the recipe and for the Soviet giggle!

  12. Jane

    Ooo. . . this looks like the eggplant on the cover of Plenty. I had planned to make that recipe with the eggplants from my garden (over-producing plants), substituting oven dried tomatoes for the pomegranate seeds called for. Your tomato relish sounds much better. Supper tomorrow.

  13. Liz W

    This looks fantastic, and I have every ingredient either in my garden or fridge. Last week I made your roasted eggplant with tomatoes and mint using halved Japanese eggplants, like you do here, instead of the larger rounds. I love the idea of adding Greek yogurt, and will try this soon.

  14. Stephanie

    Hey Deb, one funny thing I just noticed about the comments section of the new site. I see a couple people’s questions appearing in both the “All Comments” and the “Questions” tabs. When you’ve replied, your threaded reply appears in the “All Comments” tab, but not in the “Questions” tab. Just fyi. Oh, and the ad bar at the top of the home page is gone, hallelujah!

  15. minik

    I just wanted to say this: your daughter is adorable in that video!!! I. Can’t. Even. The eggplants look fine too ;) Will try!

      1. Jenni Oyler

        There’s another one too – recipesforacidreflux.com. I noticed it at the bottom of the site you linked to in the poor Russians link. I’m so annoyed for you that people are doing this to your lovely recipes.

        1. deb

          Thanks. Honestly, there are a gazillion of them, unfortunately. They’re, frankly, not very interested in passing my work off as their own — which, of course, they are too but not in any way that will grow their site — as much as they’re just ad farms trying to get money from impressions. Regardless, feel free to let me know and I will at least sometimes go through the trouble of having them taken down. ;)

  16. Gayle S.

    Oh man, was this a hit tonight! Used a combo of baby eggplant and zucchini sliced into planks and grilled. The yogurt layer provided nice contrast to the tangy tomato relish. All family members agreed it will make repeat appearances at summer meals. I needed a veggie inspiration this evening and once again you came through! Thanks Deb!

  17. Amy

    I just made this for dinner with our garden eggplant and tomatoes—with one big difference—I had no parsley, but basil. Now I know it’s a big difference in flavor profile, and this was more like a bruschetta on top of eggplant, but the basil went really nicely with the tomato caviar flavors too, the vinegar and pepper flakes. Super yum! Will make again and again and again.

  18. Sophia @ littleboxbrownie

    I’ve never been a fan of eggplant, but this recipe makes me what to give it another go. Looks so inviting.

  19. Duane

    Since this is “sort” of Russian I bought an eggplant appetizer salad in the Russian supermarket called “Tatar Eggplant”….Ït was incredible….
    Tangy soft black eggplant strips with red peppers, parsley and oil…….
    Ever heard of this? I can’t find a similar recipe….When I asked how to make it in the store they looked at me with a blank stare….

  20. Ellen

    Just an FYI… links at the bottom of my Email Update with this recipe did not work this morning. Had to click on SmittenKitchen Icon at the top of the page to continue reading. In a previous life I use to beta-test educational software so I know how frustrating this can be.

  21. Rebecca

    My gf made this for dinner last night to use up some baby eggplant. I am not a huge eggplant fan, so I just liked it while she loved it! She was especially happy with how quickly it came together. We had it with a big side of wild rice, which also mixed in nicely with the relish. Thanks for rescuing that eggplant from oblivion!

  22. But were you able to keep your adorable grill, or were you thwarted?? I’ve been waiting to hear, and I think about you every time we use our own little kitten-grill on our apartment balcony.

    1. deb

      Still have it! Still love it for as long as it lasts. I was going to grill this but knew that anyone who has one can throw theirs on the grill and that specific baking/roasting times might be more helpful for the recipe-writing.

  23. Patti

    Receive your recipes by email but the link after the pictures is not there. I have to go to the More Recent Articles, click on the last recipe which takes me to that page, then go to the right side and click Recently which shows the New recipe. A long round about way of retrieving the new recipe.
    I enjoy the variety of recipes you publish.

  24. Have you tried the eggplant coucharas from Sundays at Moosewood cookbook? Eggplant, matzo, eggs, Parmesan cheese. Seriously, what could be better?!
    I’m the only one in my family who will touch eggplant, unless it’s coucharas–in which case they’ll each eat one piece. All the more for me!
    But really, please do try them if you haven’t before. I bet the kids will have fun with them.

    1. deb

      I haven’t but it sounds delicious. I think maybe Marcella Hazan makes a version that’s fried? Regardless, I think it would be really good with this relish.

  25. Athina

    I have an abundance if zucchini in my garden right now. Would you consider subbing zucchini for the eggplant “boats”? Just curious…

    1. Sara

      I’m not Deb, but I bet that would be awesome! Although I prefer zucchini fried … Maybe dredge boats in flour/salt/pepper then fry? Or grilled would be good, too, I bet. :)

  26. Susie17

    I have a recipe from my former husband’s Polish grandmother for Eggplant Relish and it’s wonderful.
    ****** *******
    Eggplant Relish
    1 eggplant, baked until soft
    1 large tomato, cut into chunks
    2-3 cloves garlic
    1 slice stale sesame seed Challah, cut into chunks
    olive oil, to taste
    vinegar, salt and pepper to taste
    ***************************
    Bake eggplant in 350◦ oven until soft. When cool, spoon out eggplant from skin.
    Put into large chopping bowl with remaining ingredients and chop until pieces vegetables and Challah are small chunks. Season to taste. If you don’t have Challah, toasted sesame seeds will do nicely.

  27. Jan

    I will definitely make this–soon! My mother made a similar dish called Indian Eggplant Slices. Canned (gasp) pear tomatoes whirled briefly in a blender, then simmered in butter with chopped onion, ginger–fresh or ground–salt, pepper and a bit of sugar. Eggplant sliced thick, rubbed with oil, seasoned with garlic salt, then baked. ( Now we call this roasting.) the slices were arranged on a platter, then yogurt spooned on each, followed by the tomato sauce and a parsley garnish. Very tasty.

  28. Sara

    This sounds amazing … I might make the relish more hearty with some fried breadcrumbs, inspired by your recipe for spinach and chickpeas (one of my all time favorite recipes ever!)

  29. Hi! I’m planning on making this for my husband’s birthday party on Saturday… even though he doesn’t like eggplant! (I’m not being mean — I’ll follow the suggestions of a few of your commenters and make some zucchini as well.)

    My question is: since people are going to be standing around and holding their plates, is it possible for these “boats” to be eaten by hand? I picked up some VERY dark purple, nicely boat-shaped, small eggplants at our local farmer’s market today, and it seems feasible.

    Follow-up question: if you are eating these by hand, do most people eat the skin, or eat all the insides, scraping the “good parts” away from the skin with their teeth?

    Finally, Deb — did you give an update for how long to leave them on a charcoal grill? (And they’ll hold together, and not ooze onto the coals?)

    Perhaps the answers to these questions are obvious, but I’d love some feedback anyway. Thanks in advance!

    1. deb

      I don’t think they can be held as boats, or not enjoyably. Eggplant softens to much when it’s properly cooked. I didn’t add grilling times; I realize how inexact it will be. I’d expect it to be done faster, however.

  30. Lauretta

    I made this for lunch and might have just eaten the whole thing (for 2 to 4 people, WITH the couscous, yes). I guess it tells you everything you need to know.

    There’s just one thing: the relish didn’t come out red, more like kind of beige (the tomatoes probably weren’t ripe enough), so I added tomato concentrate to make it prettier, and it worked really well.

    Best summer recipe ever.

  31. RA

    When I saw this post go up, I emailed it to my husband with the subject line, “This week?” We got literally ALL of the ingredients in our CSA the next day! The meal turned out SO delicious, and that’s coming from two people who are not huge fans of eggplant. But this might be the gateway!

  32. Emily

    What do you think of putting the eggplant on the grill for the second side or the last few minutes of the second side? I am not a fan of eggplant, but am determined to find a use for it. Your recipe looks delicious. And I haven’t made something from your site yet, that didn’t please.

    1. deb

      You could put it on the grill for the whole time. Times will very, but grilled eggplant gets smokier, which is delicious. — And thank you! I’ll try to keep it up. :)

  33. Julie

    I made this tonight and was completely delighted! Thank you for another delicious recipe, beautiful pictures, and your lovely, personal writing style that make all your fans feel as if we know you!

  34. 5 beautiful eggplants are staring at me from my counter top. Could I be so lucky to have the most perfect eggplant recipe in my inbox this morning? Yep. Eggplant for dinner tonight. We will call it splendid eggplant karma. Cheers.

  35. Thanks, Deb, for answering my question. My party is tonight, and the relish has been in the fridge for over an hour now. HOWEVER… man, was it soupy! What did I do wrong? After taking it out of the food processor, I had to strain the relish through a colander, but that didn’t take care of the problem: and then once I put it into a container, I stood over the kitchen sink for four long minutes while waiting for all the juice to pour out.

    I supposed I “over-pulsed”? Has anybody else had this problem? Unfortunately I’d already added the oil and vinegar, and so I had to add more….

  36. Gerley

    I only had regular eggplant and cut them in triangular sticks and shaved the top off so the tomatoes& coucous would “sit” on top. I chopped the tops that were left over and sauteed them in a little oil and added them to the relish so nothing would be wasted. It was a delicious summer evening meal in our new home.
    Thanks, Deb, you moved in with us, of course!!

  37. Wendy

    Holy cow this is fantastic! I’ve never had ikri but the smoky eggplant vs. the acidic tomatoes with the yogurt keeping everything in balance is terrific! Running out to buy more eggplant now.

  38. dawnblayney

    When you say zingy, is it suitable for everyone, kids etc?
    It sounds absolutely delicious, just wondering if everyone eats it?
    Thanks!

    1. deb

      In my family, well, my kid hates roasted eggplant but otherwise doesn’t mind it. Not sure about other kids. I don’t think it’s any stronger than, say, a pickle.

  39. Stacey

    I made this last night. DELISH!! Relish tasted great except mine was a bit watery…not sure if I processed too much in food processor?! I’d also leave eggplant in to brown a bit more. Overall a definite keeper, can’t wait to make again. Thanks Deb!

  40. Meggie

    This was delicious and simple to prepare, devoured by toddler and picky husband alike! I used a regular big supermarket eggplant and just sliced it into planks. We didn’t have couscous so I used popped amaranth, worked great! Next time I’ll double the tomato relish, it went very quickly in our vinegar-loving household!

  41. Can’t wait to try this tomato relish on other foods as well! Eggplants aren’t my favorite food, but for this recipe, I’m going to give it a go. Thank you!

  42. iris

    i made a version of this yesterday and it was delicious. i used eggplant halves, which were scored in squares and then baked in the oven. the relish was soooo good. many thanks, deb!

  43. Alice Kintisch

    Made this tonight with home-grown Japanese eggplants and home-grown cherry tomatoes (am I bragging? sorry!). The relish, as others have mentioned, was very watery. I strained out the excess juice. But the dish was delicious, nevertheless. Can you pls. tell us what maybe caused the watery relish?

    1. deb

      Water in the tomatoes being drawn out by the salt. Ours is a little watery but not excessively; there’s no annoying slosh in the bowl. It can always be spooned over with a slotted spoon, or you could sieve some liquid out in a colander. Were you using cherry/grape tomatoes or a larger one?

    2. Sara U

      I used my stick blender and although it tasted great, I didn’t get that chunky relish in the picture, very watery. In the future I might just try hand chopping the relish… Overall, the final product was delicious, watery relish or not!

  44. Jamie

    I made this with basil instead of parsley because it’s what I got in my CSA. It was AMAZING. I’m sure it would be excellent as written as well!

  45. Charlotte

    I made this tonight, and it was a hit. It’s very simple to assemble, and doesn’t take too much time. My cherry tomatoes were watery as well after chopping (as others noted), but that was nothing unusual for me and the tomatoes I find. When the water is a problem for other dishes (like tarts), I use paper towels to pat them dry, but I don’t think that’s necessary here. I waited about 20 minutes after taking the eggplants out before putting yogurt on, and they were still lukewarm, which was ultimately nice. Couscous was a good addition. All in all, will be a repeat!

  46. Elizabeth M

    AMAZING!! I didn’t have the exact ingredients, and it turned out wonderfully anyways! I swapped millet for couscous, balsamic for red wine vinegar, basil for parsley, larger tomatoes for cherry tomatoes. I discarded (ate) some of the juicy tomato seeds before adding the tomatoes to the processor to cut down on water. I also strained my plain yogurt in a coffee filter+mesh strainer to make it a little thicker before using. I love a recipe that rewards improvisation!!

  47. Jordyn

    So good! Wanted to eat the relish with a spoon but it was even better over the eggplant. I served it as a side over quinoa, with grilled pork chops and asparagus. Upped the vinegar and salt to our tastes as noted. Will be on repeat for the rest of the summer!

  48. Deb, please disable whatever programmatic ads you added to this website in the redesign until your dev can get them fixed. They’ve crashed this page four times in the past 10 minutes for me and have basically rendered it unreadable. (With love, from a fan)

  49. mixed6reed

    Oh man, this is GOOD. I made extra couscous to serve it with, and it beautifully mopped up all of the extra relish and yogurt left on my plate. I have a few more eggplants in the refrigerator from the farmers market…I think this just became their destiny.

  50. Nyree

    So wonderful! Made this while camping over the open fire. So simple, and I loved that I could make the tomato relish in advance. Needless to say, there was none left. Thanks Deb!

  51. Saw some eggplant at the Bridgehampton farmer’s market and made a version for my gluten free blog with toasted quinoa & arugula instead of the cous cous. Substituted balsamic vinegar for the red wine vinegar as well, just on personal preference. It was a perfect pool-side lunch!

  52. bcmeag

    Hi deb! Plain yogurt or greek yogurt?

    Wondering if greek may be too tangy but I never use plain so I don’t know how it tastes in comparison.

    Making this on Thursday either way :)

    1. deb

      Funny, am I the only one that finds Greek yogurt less tangy than others? I digress. I use Greek yogurt for just about everything, mostly because it’s thickness is more helpful here. But you can use whatever you’ve got.

  53. Wendy

    Made this last night and loved it. Subbed basil for parsley because I don’t like parsley (although it probably would have been fine here) and it was amazingly delicious. Will definitely make it again. Possibly tonight…

  54. Alison

    This was so delicious! I loved the flavors. I do think it would benefit from just a bit of crunchiness. I think next time we’ll switch the couscous for quinoa and toast some of it for a topping. This is definitely going into regular rotation next summer, though – mega delicious, pretty healthy, and easy!

  55. Bea Mendoza

    Hi Deb,
    I made this today and it was great! The tomato relish was delicious and I love the yogurt addition. I must say my roasted eggplant looked nothing like yours, though. I used the eggplants I had, which were not the long and skinny kind, but the regular Europeans ones (meaning, not the oversized, seedy, horrible ones you finds in Safeway in the USA). You didn´t say what to do if using those, so I cut them in thick slices. The problem is they never roasted like yours; instead they got kind of shriveled up and dried up. I always am disappointed when baking eggplant because this is what always happens. I ended up turning the grill also and after 10 minutes of that they sort of browned and where fine to eat (as I said, the yogurt and relish made them delicious) but I don´t understand what is wrong with my oven or what I am doing wrong (of course, one thing is they didn´t have a single cut-side to put down first). Thanks !!!