Ikra is an Eastern European eggplant spread that makes a great starter, but in my opinion, mostly belongs on a piece of nice toasted bread 🙂
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 small carrots, grated
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 10-15 sprigs flat leaf parsley
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp hot red pepper paste such as harissa (or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- Salt and pepper
Poke holes in eggplants using a fork. If you have a gas stove or grill, char the eggplant and red bell pepper over the flame, until the skins darken and get smokey (approximately 5 minutes each side). *If you do not have a gas stove or grill, simply bake the eggplant and red pepper whole in the oven at 400 F for approximately 30 minutes.*
Cool eggplant until cool enough to handle, remove skins, and chop into 1-inch chunks (a few remaining tiny bits of skin are perfectly fine). On a large pan, heat a few tbsps of oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and 1 tsp salt. Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until eggplant softens significantly and loses a bit of liquid.
Finely chop onions. Add to pan with eggplant along with garlic, and cook over medium heat for another 15 minutes, or until onions become soft, mixing occasionally. Using a a wooden spoon or spatula, press down on any larger pieces of eggplant to help break them down.
Grate carrots. Add to the pan along with tomato paste, coriander, a few cracks of black pepper, sugar, and hot pepper paste/red pepper flakes. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Remove the blackest bits of skin from the red pepper and add it to a blender or food processor along with parsley. Pulse 5-10 times, or until you get the consistency of a salsa. Add to the pan and cook for another 10 minutes over medium heat.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and enjoy hot or cold!