This zaalouk recipe is a ridiculously delicious combination of eggplant, tomato, and olive oil with bright aromatic herbs and rich, warming spices. Whip up a batch of this classic dip for an easy appetizer or side dish loaded with authentic North African flavor.
Zaalouk is a traditional Moroccan eggplant salad that delivers major flavor. This simple, yet incredibly flavorful dip is made by blending stewed eggplant and tomatoes with a mix of herbs and spices that are central to North African cooking.
With a smoky, rustic flavor profile and bright, acidic overtones, it is one of those dynamite recipes that will tease each and every one of your taste buds. In addition to being delectable and easy to prepare, Moroccan eggplant dip is gluten-free, vegetarian, and full of healthy nutrients. Delicious and nutritious!
Table of Contents
Choosing the right Eggplant
When choosing your eggplants, look for those that are firm to the touch but not hard, with smooth, deep purple skin. A healthy young eggplant will feel heavy for its size.
- Eggplant – Also called aubergines, this versatile veggie is great at absorbing the flavors of other ingredients and has a rich, creamy texture when cooked. When choosing your eggplants, look for those that are firm to the touch but not hard, with smooth, deep purple skin. A healthy young eggplant will feel heavy for its size.
- Tomatoes – Any variety of tomatoes will work here, but you must use fresh tomatoes. Resist any urge to use canned tomatoes, regardless of brand or quality. The high acid content in canned tomatoes will have a negative impact on the overall flavor of your eggplant appetizer.
- Garlic – Don’t be alarmed at the fact that we use 6 cloves of garlic for this recipe. It is actually the perfect amount to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and lemon.
- Parsley – Adds a fresh dose of clean, peppery flavor.
- Cilantro – Offers another dimension of freshness with a slightly sharp, lemony flavor.
- Smoked Paprika – This spice is deep, smoky, bright, and fruity all at the same time.
- Cumin – Gives the dip a dash of earthy, smoky warmth.
- Cayenne – Adds just the right amount of invigorating heat. Adjust up or down as desired.
- Lemon – Delivers a brightening splash of citrus.
- Combine Ingredients. Place a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Heat the olive oil, then add the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, cilantro, paprika, salt, cayenne, and ⅓ cup of water. Stir the mixture to combine well.
- Cook to Soften. Keep the pan over medium heat, cover, and cook for 20-25 minutes. You want the eggplant and tomatoes to get soft enough to mash.
- Add Lemon Juice. Uncover the pan, stir in the lemon juice, and reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom, as the mixture reduces. Avoid scorching by lowering the heat as needed.
- Cook to Desired Consistency. Once the sauce reduces to the perfect thickness, remove the pan from heat. Taste and add seasonings as desired.
- Serve. Serve immediately or allow it to cool first. Pair with pita, pita chips, or your bread of choice.
It is made from a simple base of eggplant, tomatoes, and olive oil, simmered together with loads of aromatic herbs and warming spices.
This zaalouk recipe features fresh garlic, cilantro, parsley, and lemon along with cumin, cayenne, and smoked paprika. It is a simple, yet sensational blend of some of the best flavors North African cuisine has to offer!
As long as you choose young, tender eggplants, there is no need to peel them. The stewing process used in this zaalouk recipe is great for softening the skin enough to blend into the dip.
However, you may want to peel the skins if you have a sensitive palate or the fruit is on the fence of freshness. When eggplant starts to get older, the skin will toughen and leave a bitter taste that can ruin your entire batch of zaalouk. If you have any doubts at all, go ahead and peel and discard the skins.
Another option, although it adds a bit of time, is to roast the eggplant in the oven and then scoop the softened flesh out. The choice is yours!
Absolutely! In fact, I recommend it. Zaalouk is tasty enough when served fresh, but giving it a day or two in the refrigerator makes it even tastier. Simply prepare the recipe, store the dip in an airtight container in the fridge, and enjoy within 3-4 days.
If you end up with too much Moroccan eggplant salad to eat in time, freezing is also an option. Transfer any leftovers into a freezer-safe container and stash it in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Once you are ready to enjoy it again, thaw any frozen portions in the refrigerator overnight. Then, either let it come to room temperature or gently heat it before serving.
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Zaalouk (Eggplant Appetizer)
- In a Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, cilantro, paprika, cumin, salt, cayenne, and 1/3 cup of water. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until the eggplant and tomatoes are soft enough to mash.
- Stir in lemon juice and continue cooking uncovered over low heat to reduce liquid, stirring frequently; occasionally scraping the bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat if necessary to avoid contents from scorching.
- When the zaalouk is reduced to desired consistency, taste, then adjust seasoning with salt if needed. Serve warm or cold with pita or other bread of choice.
- If desired, boil, grill or roast eggplant first, then drain water and strain out as many seeds as possible. Add cooked eggplant pulp in step 2, after tomatoes have cooked.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.