Eggplant that's been charred to the point of no return, in so many ways, that's the aroma I associate with first falling in love with food, when Safta roasted vegetables for lutenitsa directly on the stovetop. It makes a repeat performance here, but this time, eggplant gets to be the headliner.
Technique tip: Pro tip: use some foil on your burners to help keep make the cleanup easier.
Swap option: Swap, any nut butter instead of tahini and yogurt instead of sour cream.
- 2 large (1-pound) eggplants
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons raw tahini
- 1 tablespoon ice water
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Prick the eggplants all over with a fork before you roast them. To cook these on a gas stovetop, you may want to line your burners with foil if you're worried about a mess. Lay each eggplant on its side directly on the burners of a gas stovetop and cook over a medium flame for 25 to 30 minutes, until the bottoms are haggard and blistered with bits of papery white char. Just when you think they're ready to rotate, you can probably cook that side for another 5 minutes.2.
Flip the eggplant and cook until the other side is equally charred; rotate them slightly if you notice that any parts aren't coloring. They're ready when they're uniformly charred and you can pierce them at the neck with no resistance, 40 to 50 minutes total. The uglier they are, the more flavor there is inside. Take them off the heat and let cool.3.
Steep the garlic in the lemon juice for at least 30 minutes, then remove and discard the garlic. Whisk the lemon juice with the tahini and ice water, and don't worry if at first it looks curdled, keep whisking and, like magic, it will become light and smooth.4.
Cut the tops off the eggplants, halve them lengthwise and gently open them up. Scoop out the flesh, taking care not to bring along too much of the papery char, which is bitter. It's not the end of the world if you have a few stowaways, they'll just add a little extra smokiness.5.
Scoop all the creamy flesh into a fine-mesh sieve to drain away any excess liquid, then give it a few chops to make it spreadable. Fold it together with the prepared tahini mixture, sour cream and salt, and serve at room temperature.