Have the eggplant dip the Moroccan way- Zaalouk

A dip of eggplant is almost everywhere around the mediterranean sea.. French call it “Caviar d’aubergine”, Middle-eastern have babaghanoug, mtabbal.. We Have Zaalook, I love it, I can ask for it everyday. It’s versatile, it’s healthy and it’s 100% vegetarian.

One of the secrets of this recipe is to have a very good extra virgin olive oil but also when you add the cumin.

I’ll give you here a few option on how to make a basic zaalouk, some of the methods are healthier than others.


Serves 12 persons (if served as a salad)
Ready in 1 hour

– 1 kg of good eggplants
– 400 to 500 g fresh tomatoes
– 1 chopped onion

– 5 to 6 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed)

– 5 tbsp of Olive Oil
– 1 heaped tbsp of sweet paprika
– 3 heaped tbsp of chopped coriander and some for garnishing
– 1 tbsp of ground cumin
– Salt to taste
– Pepper (Optional)
– Optional: 1 Red chili


Handling the aubergines/eggplants

Dice the eggplants and keep skin on. Pour over some lemon juice.

Method 1 to cook the eggplants

Boil the diced eggplants for 30 min on salted water and on medium heat.

Method 2 to cook the eggplants

Preheat the oven on 200 degrees C. Grill the slices of eggplants (cut lengthwise) in an greased baking sheet for 15 min. Dice them when ready. Knock off the oven and leave them to sweat. Chop them.

Method 3 to cook the eggplants

Grill the whole eggplant (pricked) on a BBQ grill (make sure to grease the grill with olive oil). Get rid of half of the skin. Mash or finely chop once cooked

Method 4 to cook the eggplants

Fry big chunks (or slices) of eggplants. Drain excess oil and press them between  2 pieces of absorbing kitchen paper. Dice them when ready.

When the eggplant is ALMOST ready and cooked all the way through (not whitish anymore), drain them and press them gently to push the excess of water/oil out.

Making zaalouk

Chop the onion and fry over the pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil until transparent (5 min).

Dice peeled tomatoes. Add them to the fried onion and continue stirring and cooking over a heated pan for 5 min.

Add paprika, half of the cumin, crushed garlic, salt, coriander. It’s also the time to add a chilli if you want a kick.

On a medium heat, add the tomatoes and the eggplants and start mashing the whole mix until complete evaporation of water. This should take anywhere between 15 and 20 min. Mix in the cumin.

Drizzle olive oil while serving.

This is salad or a dip that is more likely to be eaten cold or at room temperature.

If you have Moroccan preserved lemon, you might add some on top before serving.

Author: Nada

Nada Kiffa is an Expert in Moroccan cooking and her recipes are coming from a lineage of Moroccan home and professional cooks. Cooking classes and posted articles are inspired by her family life in Morocco and elsewhere. You will learn what makes a dish Moroccan before learning how to execute it. You will also learn how to work around recipes and cut corners without missing on the flavour.

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