Eggplants with Chermoula Recipe

Eggplants with Chermoula

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 45 minutes

Chermoula is a fresh and spicy marinade and sauce. Morocco’s national sauce imparts a distinctive flavor to fish, meat, and vegetables. It appears every town and family has its own special recipe. Chermoula can be made well in advance and kept in the fridge. Using preserved lemons gives this dish the typical Moroccan flavor.

I use this dish either as an appetizer, perhaps with some pita bread, or as a side dish for grilled fish or chicken.

Ingredients:

US MeasuresMetricICYMI

Eggplants (Aubergines):

  • 2 medium eggplants (aubergines)
  • coarse salt
  • olive oil to brush eggplant slices
  • preserved lemons, thinly sliced (optional)

Chermoula:

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), use only leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground chile pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Eggplants (Aubergines):

  • 2 medium eggplants (aubergines)
  • coarse salt
  • olive oil to brush eggplant slices
  • preserved lemons, thinly sliced (optional)

Chermoula:

  • 30 g fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), use only leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground chile pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 120 ml extra virgin olive oil

Chile, chili or chilli?

Chile with an “e” at the end is the correct spelling of the spicy red or green pepper in Spanish speaking countries and parts of the US. The plural is “chiles”. However in most parts of the US the term “chili” like in “Chili con Carne” is used for the peppers and the pepper powder. That’s confusing!

“Chile Powder” is the condiment containing only chiles, whereas “Chili Powder” is a spice mix. McCormick’s chili powder contains “chili peppers (the incorrect spelling), spices (no further details), salt, and silicon dioxide”. What I normally use are fresh or dried chiles, they give the best aroma. I might use chile powder once in a while, like the “Ancho Chile Pepper” powder from McCormick for Mexican or Tex-Mex seasonings. The ancho chile powder contains only dried ancho chile peppers and, like most condiment powders, silicon dioxide. This is an anticaking agent deemed harmless by the FDA, albeit the EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) recently raised concerns due to the use of nanoparticles.

The third version, “chilli,” is the spelling used in Britain, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries”.

In many countries the term “Red Pepper Flakes” is used for dried, crushed chile.

Preparation:

Cut eggplants lengthwise into 3/8 inch (1 cm) slices. Sprinkle both sides with coarse salt. Set on kitchen paper for 30 minutes to draw the juices. After 30 minutes, pat them dry and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and lay them side by side on a baking sheet. Bake until golden about 25 minutes or until fork tender.

In the meantime prepare the Chermoula sauce. Mix all ingredients and set aside. If Chermoula seems too thick, thin it up with a bit olive oil or lemon juice to your liking.

When baking time is over, remove eggplants from oven and set aside to cool. Arrange eggplant slices on a serving plate and drizzle them with Chermoula and garnish with thinly sliced preserved lemon slices. Keeping it in the fridge for a day intensifies the flavor.

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