Fried Eggplant Roll-Ups
Taste of Persia: A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan
"These succulent roll-ups, or badrigiani, are one of the treasures of the Georgian table. Strips of fried eggplant are coated with spiced walnut paste and rolled up. They’re best if made an hour or more ahead of time and slightly chilled, so that the filling firms up and the flavors have time to blend. Badrigiani make a great appetizer, though in Georgia they are usually served as part of a wide selection of dishes at a meal." —Naomi Duguid
- 5 narrow Asian eggplants, about 12 inches long; or 10 Asian eggplants, about 8 inches long; or 2 pounds Mediterranean eggplant
- Sea salt as needed
- 3/4 cup walnuts or walnut pieces
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground blue fenugreek, or 3/4 teaspoon powdered dried fenugreek plus 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Scant 1/4 teaspoon powdered dried red chiles (optional)
- 1/2 cup minced fresh coriander
- 1/2 cup minced fresh mint
- 3 trimmed and finely chopped scallions
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
- About 3 tablespoons sunflower or extra virgin olive oil
Prepare the eggplants: trim the stems off the eggplants and discard. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips; if the eggplants are very long or very wide, cut the slices in half crosswise or lengthwise to yield strips 4 to 6 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Lay the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle them generously with salt. Set another baking sheet on top of the slices and weight it down with a heavy cast-iron pan (or set up an equivalent arrangement) and set the eggplant aside for an hour or so to allow it to drain and compress.
Meanwhile, make the filling: combine the walnuts, garlic, ground spices, salt, and chiles in a food processor or a mortar and process or pound to blend thoroughly. Transfer the filling to a bowl and stir in the herbs, scallions, and vinegar or lemon juice.
Assemble the roll-ups: rinse the eggplant strips thoroughly in a colander and squeeze dry. Place a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil, and heat until hot. Slide some eggplant strips into the oil, without crowding, lower the heat to medium, and fry, turning the strips once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Lift out onto a paper towel–lined plate or baking sheet and set aside until cool enough to handle. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more oil as necessary and heating it until hot before adding more eggplant. Spread some filling on each eggplant strip, roll up, and set seam side down on a platter. Serve at room temperature.
Excerpted from Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2016. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.
6 to 8 servings