How to make kashke bademjan, a simple, creamy Persian eggplant dip made with the unique ingredient "kashk" and a handful of other ingredients. The result is a vegetarian eggplant dip perfect for serving up warm as an appetizer or side.
If using, break the saffron down into a powder and combine it with just a little water for "bloomed saffron."
Step 2: Cook the eggplant
While the eggplant is traditionally fried, I prefer to charr it over an open flame. However, you could also grill or bake the eggplant.
To char over the open flame, cook for a few minutes (4-5) on each side until a skewer passes easily through the eggplant. It may be easier doing this over a heatproof "rack" to cook the eggplant evenly.Alternatively, to roast the eggplant, slice it in half, brush with a little oil, and then place flesh-side-down on a tray and bake in a preheated oven at 400ºF/200ºC for 50-60 minutes, or until the eggplant begins to collapse and is tender.
Step 3: Steam the eggplant
Place the eggplant in a bowl/container and cover it with a lid to steam for 10 minutes.
Peel the skin from the eggplant – it should come off very easily after the steaming. Alternatively, you can scoop the insides out with a spoon.
Gently squeeze the flesh to remove the excess juices (to discard).
Step 4: Sauté the ingredients
Head up the oil in a large pan. Then add the onion, garlic, and turmeric (optional) and saute for 2-3 minutes, until beginning to become translucent.
Add the charred eggplant, mixing well. I use a potato masher to mas the ingredients directly in the pan until it's creamy, but you still have the slightly stringy texture of the eggplant (alternatively, you can use a food processor/immersion blender for a smooth consistency if that's your preference). You could make this easier by mashing the eggplant more before adding it to the pan.Now there are two ways you can go ahead. Some people add the kashk to the pan too. That way, the flavors meld more and become one _ dish. Alternatively, you can leave the kashk out, for now, mixing it in as a 'topping' towards the end.
Lightly saute the mixture over medium heat for 5-10 to meld and slightly reduce the leftover liquid in the eggplant.
Meanwhile, in a small pan, add a little oil and the dried mint and fry for a few seconds until fragrant. Then remove from the heat. You can also dry-fry the walnuts for 2-3 minutes until fragrant (this can also be done in advance).
Step 5: Assemble and serve
Transfer the dip to a large serving bowl. Top with the kashk (or more, if you've added it within the dip, too), the saffron liquid (if using), mint, and walnuts – or the toppings of your choice (suggestions in recipe notes). I also like to add pomegranate seeds just before serving – though this isn't traditional.
How to Store?
Store: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for between 2-3 days.Freeze: I recommend freezing before adding the kashk. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe container for 2 months. Allow to thaw before mixing well again, give a taste and adjust any seasonings if needed – then add the kashk and toppings and enjoy!Reheat: reheat the dip either on the stovetop or in the microwave.
For the best texture: make sure to hand-mash the eggplant so it's still slightly chunky but creamy. You can technically use a food processor/immersion blender, but the texture won't be traditional.
Using kashk for the first time: if you've never tried kashk before, it can be a bit of an acquired taste. For that reason, I recommend adding 1 tablespoon at a time to personal preference.
For extra mint flavor: you can optionally add extra dried mint to the pan to mix directly into the kashke bademjan.
For a nut-free version: feel free to omit the nuts entirely. If you still want the texture, you could use a toasted seed instead, like pine nuts, which also have that "buttery" quality of walnuts.
Eggplant: you can use one larger eggplant or several smaller ones. Smaller eggplant (like Chinese eggplants) often contain fewer seeds and will be less bitter and better for this dip. But I've used both with good results (as you can see).
Optional add-ins and Variations:
Caramelized onions: you can save 1 tablespoon of the sauteed/caramelized onion to serve over the dip as a garnish. This is a popular garnish for this eggplant dip.
Herbs: feel free to top the dip with extra fresh herbs like parsley, mint, cilantro, or scallions.
Butter: for a richer eggplant dip, you can substitute some of the oil used for butter.
Olive oil: you can, optionally, drizzle the prepared eggplant dip with olive oil before serving.
Lemon juice: if you're substituting the kashk, this dip won't be quite as "tangy." For that reason, a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice could be a good idea just before serving.
Tomato: while not authentic, you can add some tomato paste or crushed tomatoes to the onion mixture for additional flavor.
Other garnishes: there are several seasonings/ingredients you could garnish this dip with, including sumac, fresh jeera powder, thinly sliced green chili, sesame seeds, fried garlic, dried fenugreek, etc. Someone also suggested to me that tahini could be nice to drizzle over the kashke bademjan, which I haven't tried.
Check the blog post for serving suggestions and answers to top FAQs.