Last night we watched “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” on Netflix. If you love to cook and eat there is nothing not to love about this film. A travelogue meets culinary history and a sparkling show of local food, extraordinary chefs, rich olive oil, shimmering fresh fish, bustling markets and a good explanation of the differences in Ashkenazi and Sephardic flavours.
The film left my mind whirring with recipes to try and Chef Ezra Kedem’s eggplant carpaccio from Arcadia Restaurant in Jerusalem was the high note for me. He demonstrates how to prepare his ubiquitous dish and the scene is just lovely, bulbous eggplants being charred on the open fire of his stove before he mashes the flesh onto a plate and adds salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, dollops of fresh tahini and yogurt, the flesh of a juicy red tomato and finishes it with chopped walnuts and parsley.
Thanks to Salt and Serenity for her personal recipe I was able to recreate the dish. Such simple ingredients with BIG flavours, rich but light. Within that first bite my mind was carried away to a warm place with rolling hills, sunshine and bountiful lands. This recipe is a keeper, we literally licked our plates clean.
Recipe by Salt and Serenity, a food writer who had the opportunity to participate in a culinary workshop with Chef Ezra Kedem and learned how to prepare this dish. Check our her blog to read about her experience cooking with Chef Ezra Kedem and for more tales from her kitchen.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
1 large eggplant, or 2 medium eggplants
1⁄4 cup raw tahini
1⁄4 cup plain yogurt
1 ripe tomato, peeled, and finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup finely chopped parsley
1⁄4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Preparation: Over the flame of a gas stove or on a gas BBQ, char eggplant over high heat. Occasionally turn eggplant with tongs to ensure it gets charred on all sides, including the top and bottom. Press eggplant with tongs to test for readiness. It must feel quite soft. This will take about 20 minutes. Be patient.
Let eggplant cool slightly, and then using the side of a knife, scrape off all the charred skin. Cut the flesh away from the seeds. The easiest way to do this is to cut off all 4 sides and leave the seeds in the center.
Divide eggplant flesh evenly among 4 plates. Using the back of a fork, flatten the eggplant on the plate so that it lies in a thin layer.
Spread a bit of minced garlic over the eggplant. Drizzle eggplant with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Drizzle raw tahini, yogurt and diced tomatoes around the edge of the plate.
Finish with a fine topping of minced parsley and chopped walnuts. This is best served warm but will also taste great at room temperature.