When I was a kid, I ate very few vegetables. As a matter of fact, I only started eating more veggies right around the age of 14, right when I left Morocco. Prior to that, the only veggies I used to eat were: potatoes (of course), tomatoes and aubergines. So when I was thinking of sharing a recipe that involved using aubergines (eggplants), it was kind of a no brainer for me. Zaalouk was and is still my favourite way to enjoy eggplants and tomatoes.
Once you try this recipe, I am sure it will be yours too 🙂
What is Zaalouk?
Zaalouk is a warm creamy moroccan side dish/salad. The tomato sauce is always made using fresh tomatoes (always!), olive oil and a balanced blend of spices that makes it all come together.
The eggplants, or aubergines, are mainly used to add creaminess and texture to the sauce.
When it comes to spices, they are mainly used to brighten up the dish and make the mediterranean flavours that we all love.
Every Household has its own spin on it.
Because of my father’s profession, I have lived in multiple moroccan towns/cities. That constant travelling allowed me to see that even the recipes that were super popular, like zaalouk, were not really mainstreamed everywhere.
You will find dozens of variations of this moroccan classic, and to be completely honest, you will also find a ton of places in morocco that could not care less about it.
My mom was heavily influenced by french cuisine, therefore this is the version that I grew up eating. Chunky, saucy and full of flavours. Just a like a ratatouille.
Do I have to use fresh tomatoes?
You probably have a can of amazing San Marzano tomatoes, but I’m gonna have to ask you to set it aside. Fresh tomatoes make a big difference here.
Unlike canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes are sweeter and a lot more subtle. Therefore, they will not overpower the delicate flavour of eggplants. Canned tomatoes, no matter how good they are, are highly acidic and will just over power the entire dish.
Trust me on this.
Can I make Zaalouk Without tomatoes?
You can, but it will more of a Baba Ghanoush than Zaalouk.
How to Make Zaalouk.
Moroccan Zaalouk Recipe
Warm Moroccan Aubergine & Tomato Salad
- 1 large aubergine cut into 16 pieces
- 4 ripe Italian tomatoes you can use other types of tomatoes if you don't have Italian.
- 1-2 cloves of garlic peeled and minced.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- 1 tsp sea salt
Garnish : I like to serve it with some chopped cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil.
Bring a big pot of water to boil, lower the heat to medium-high and add your diced aubergine. Cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the aubergines have completely cooked trough. We are not looking for al dente here, they have to be very soft. Drain, and set aside.
Cut your tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Grab a box grater and grate your tomatoes face down until the only thing your left holding is the skin. Be careful not to hurt yourself.
Heat up a sauce pan on medium heat and add olive oil, tomato pulp & juice, tomato paste and garlic. Cook your tomato sauce for 5 minutes and add your cooked aubergine. Using a potato masher, crush the aubergines and stir. The consistency here is up to you. I like to leave mine just a little chunky.
Add your cumin, salt and paprika and stir again. Cook for another 4-5 minutes (more if you want all the water to evaporate) or until you get the thickness you like.
Remove from heat and serve with some olive oil, cilantro and of course, your favourite bread.
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