Zaalouk is an eggplant and tomato salad from Morocco, easy to prepare and bursting with flavor. The two main ingredients are straightforward: Zaalouk is based on grilled eggplant and fresh, sun ripe tomatoes but you can also substitute them with canned tomatoes. Nevertheless, I think Zaalouk is best when both are in season as the taste will be determined by the quality of the ingredients.
Zaalouk is especially great during the summer as its refreshing taste goes superb alongside grilled meats, fish and veggies. Thanks to its spice blend, Zaalouk is loaded with flavor, and these flavors come through even more when prepared a bit in advance, and the salad stays fresh for up to a week in the fridge. So even if you only cook for yourself or two people, don’t be afraid to prepare a bigger portion of Zaalouk.
To serve 6 people you will need
- 5 medium sized eggplants (aubergines) or 3 big ones
- 500 g fresh tomatoes (garden tomatoes, cherry tomatoes etc.), roughly chopped / if tomatoes are not in season you can substitute with canned tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp of good extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp toasted, ground cumin
- 1 tsp toast, ground coriander
- 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes (hot) or ½ tsp hot chili powder
- 1 tsp of fine sugar or cinnamon sugar (sugar mixed with cinnamon powder)
- salt and black pepper to taste
- juice of half a lemon
- ½ bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped (classic)
- ¼ bunch of fresh, flat parsley, roughly chopped
- alternatively: 10 g of fresh chives, chopped (to give your Zaalouk a twist)
Start by grilling the eggplants (aubergines) over a barbecue until the skin gets black and breaks open. They are ready when the eggplants collabs completely and their inside gets very soft.
If you don’t have a barbecue you can also use the grill of your oven, but you won’t get that smoky taste. When using an oven this process might need around 50 min to 1 hour, and you have to turn the aubergines every 15 to 20 min. You might also want to prick the eggplants before putting them in as they tend to explode when the inside starts to cook.
Put in a colander and allow the eggplants to cool. Then, take a tablespoon and take out the flesh, throw away the burnt skins. Put the flesh of the eggplants in a large bowl.
Heat the olive oil and lightly fry the garlic, you want to obtain a golden color. Don’t let the garlic turn too dark, it quickly turns bitter. Toast the cumin, coriander, sweet paprika and chili for about two to three minutes along with the garlic. Then add the chopped fresh or canned tomatoes. If your tomatoes are very watery, take out the inside first. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about 20 min or until everything gets thick and sweet. Stir from time to time. Season with salt and black pepper and allow to cool.
Mix the tomatoes with the eggplants, add the lemon juice, fresh coriander and parsley or chives. Taste and add more of any ingredients if you think it might need.
Serve Zaalouk at room temperature with flatbreads, as a side dish with grilled fish or along with other dips or spreads such as hummus.