I’m not sure if I’ve ever emphasized just how much eggplant means to Iranians. Have I ever?
So here it goes:
We adore eggplant and it seems that our dear ancestors were on a mission to see “who cooks it best”.
From adding it to yogourt and making a tasty dip to enjoy with any kind of bread, to filling it with beef and different herbs and preparing a splendid hors d’oeuvre (or the main course if you may) eggplant is a staple in our households.
My grandmother (God bless her soul) had this weird fascination with Badenjan. She peeled, cooked and fried the dark purple fruit as if caring for a long-loved friend, “the skin is too delicate,” she’d say, “you have to make sure you don’t peel away everything.”
What I remember the most, however, in between running around the kitchen, pretending to be Cinderella and treating my sister and cousins as the ugly step-sisters, is the aroma of the fried eggplant. That smell alone could get my attention anytime.
And as the youngest grandchild (and by far, the most spoiled one!) I always got the best part of whatever it was on the dining table.
The crunchiest part of the Tahdig, the little round-shaped cutlets that were made especially for me and of course, the majority of the yogourt bowl at my disposal! So it was a known fact to the rest of the family that when an eggplant dish was involved, I was the first to be summoned to the table.
Our Friday lunch wouldn’t be complete without my grandmother’s famous Kashk-Badenjan.
Although so many families use this dip style dish as an appetizer, as per a tradition in our household, Kashk-Badenjan was considered the main course, “don’t eat it alone,” my grandmother would scold, “here, have some Sangak.”
Garnishing the dish with caramelized onions and garlic, roasted walnuts and mint, my grandmother would often ponder for a second or two, before adding more kashk (whey) to her masterpiece, “you can never have too much kashk,” she’d explain with a wicked smile.
Our cold winter Fridays, (yes, it snows and it gets cold in Tehran, haven’t you watched the news recently?!) was always warm and tingly with that unique feeling only a grandparent’s house can bring, the air tender with my cousins’ laughter, adults’ conversations and of course, musky with the scent of the incredible lunch we had.
Master the art of Kashk Badenjan just like my grandmother by reading through Azita’s step-by-step guidance here.