Eggplant and Yogurt Spread

Anissa Helou

Feast: Food of the Islamic World

“This is a wonderful dip with a subtle flavor of caramelized onion and saffron and a silky texture offset by the lovely crunch of the walnut garnish.”—James Beard Award nominee Anissa Helou


  • 2 large eggplants (about 1 pound)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • Sea salt and finely ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup labneh
  • Pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Flatbread (such as naan), for serving



Preheat the broiler to high.

Prick the eggplants in several places with the tip of a knife and place on a baking sheet, then under the hot broiler. Broil for 30 to 40 minutes, turning them halfway through, until the skin is charred and the flesh is very soft. Halve the broiled eggplants lengthwise. Scoop out the flesh and place in a colander for about 20 minutes to drain off the excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl and mash the eggplants.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Add the mashed eggplants and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and let cool.

Stir the labneh into the cooled eggplant mixture. Transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with the saffron water and sprinkle the chopped walnuts all over. Serve with bread.


Excerpted from FEAST: Food of the Islamic World (Ecco, 2018). Copyright © 2018. Photographs by Kristin Perers.


4 servings