This is somewhat of a classic dish in these parts, and super-simple: Fresh tomatoes meet an interestingly shaped baladi eggplant, and all of the above are in season right now.
You’ll find a version of this eggplant salad just about everywhere here, sometimes served cold, sometimes spicy, and frequently made with tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes. You can find it at luncheon cafes, served with pita, alongside falafel, or, my favorite, with rice. (OK, my real favorite is homemade, but you get the idea.)
I favor taking advantage of the fact that tomatoes are in season, since bright red tomatoes, sweet and juicy, add something to a dish that no processed tomato product can do.
The baladi eggplants are one of the four major kinds grown around here, alongside the basic club-shaped eggplants and two kinds of mini eggplants. They’re more squat than your usual eggplant, with rippled skin. (You can find my photo of a weird-looking, overgrown baladi eggplant alongside with my post on eggplant in balsamic vinegar and pomegranate syrup.)
A note about preparing eggplant: I’m used to slicing and “sweating” my eggplants a day before I cook them, but chef Rafi Cohen argues that this isn’t necessary anymore, since most cultivated eggplant varieties are grown not to be bitter. (The article, and lots of recipes, in Hebrew.)
For about 4 servings:
1 kilogram fresh tomatoes (or canned, if you have to)
1 medium-sized eggplant (about 350 grams)
4-6 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 carrot (optional)
oil for frying
1 cup water
Chop the eggplant into chunks, dice the onion and crush the garlic. Let the onion begin to fry in some olive oil in a thick-bottomed pot, then add the garlic, and finally the eggplant. Add the optional carrot.
Begin slicing the tomatoes into the pot, and add the water and spices. Close the lid and let simmer until the tomatoes are falling apart.
Serving suggestion: Top with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro. Eat hot or cold.