Smoking eggplant over a fire and then mashing the peeled vegetable into a puree was a method of cooking the vegetable that was very popular amongst the Moors and Jews in Spain. When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 they took this cooking technique with them and adapted it to ingredients that were readily available in their new homeland. Turkish people added tahini but the Syrian Jews added pomegranate molasses, a thick, sweet/tart liquid made from boiling pomegranate juice until it is thick as molasses. Hence its name.
1 medium eggplant (1-1½ pounds)
2-3 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
¼ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
3-4 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
- Roast the eggplant over a grill until all sides are charred and the eggplant is soft and deflated.
- Remove to a colander, slit open on one side from stem to bottom and let the juices run out for 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
- Remove the skin and stem and discard.
- Place the eggplant pulp in a clean bowl and then cut in all directions with a knife and fork and then continue to mix with the fork until no long strings of eggplant remain.
- Add the pomegranate molasses, minced garlic and pepper flakes and combine thoroughly.
- Slowly add the oil as you whip the eggplant mixture with a fork until a smooth emulsion, or spread, is formed.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Spread the mixture on a nine inch plate and make a slight well in the center. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley or some powdered sumac or paprika for color.
- Serve with pita points or crackers.
- Pomegranate molasses is very thick. After opening bottle, store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh but bring to room temperature before using so it will be easy to pour and combine with the other ingredients.
- If the mixture is too sweet for your taste try adding 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to the mixture and possibly a little more oil to balance the flavors.
- This is a great sauce/condiment to serve over grilled fish or chicken. Not traditional but delicious.