Our Persian friend recently gave us an eggplant recipe, along with a jar of Kashk – fermented whey.
Kashk (Persian), keshk, kishk, or kishik is a large family of foods found in Iranian, Kurdish, and Arab cuisine.
In modern Iran, kashk is a thick whitish liquid similar to whey (a dairy product) similar to sour cream, used in traditional Persian/Iranian cooking. It is available as a liquid or in a dried form, which needs to be soaked and softened before it can be used in cooking. Kashk was traditionally produced from the leftovers of cheese-making (more specifically, the milk used to make it).
Traditional dishes containing kashk include “Kashk-e Bademjan” (a dish of grilled aubergines mixed with kashk) , “aash-e reshteh” (a noodle broth with various pulses), “halim bademjan” *(similar to kashk-e bademjan, but with minced meat) and “aash-e kashk” (a broth). (Wikipedia)
Kashk is available at Persian or Arab stores in creamy or powdered form. Sour cream may be used as a substitute, but it really cannot match the complex fermented flavour.
Bademjan / Baadenjaan = eggplant / aubergine / brinjal.
There are many variations to this recipe in terms of ingredients, spelling and pronunciation.
Kashk-O-Bademjan or simply ‘Kashk Bademjan’.
All the recipes have four main ingredients – eggplants, mint, caramelised onions and kashk. Depending on individual preferences and which part of Iran the cook comes from, it may also have garlic, tomato paste, and in our friend’s case, walnuts. It is usually eaten with a flatbread like lavash, taftoon or pita.
Don’t hesitate to make this even without kashk. It is delicious drizzled with plain yogurt/sour cream or on its own.
Ours had all of the above except tomato paste. Since tomatoes and eggplants complement each other so well, we will be adding it the next time. Hence, we’ve included it in the ingredient list.
KASHK E BADEMJAN with rye crackers
We like to use long, slender Japanese eggplants for this. They are sweeter and have fewer seeds than the other varieties.
Makes about 1.5 cups
3 Japanese eggplants
and cut into thick pieces (about 1 inch cubes) – 5 to 6 cups. Soak in warm salty water (to remove/reduce bitterness) for a few minutes.
Dry the eggplants and toss it in a saute pan with
2 tbsp olive oil.
Brown lightly. Stir a bit, add couple tsp of oil, and brown a bit more.
Add a teeny bit of water, stir and add some salt and pepper and scrape browned eggplant from the bottom of the pan, and cook until its soft and mushy.
Peel and chop
a medium onion (1.5 cups) and
3 to 4 garlic cloves
and saute in
2 tbsp olive oil. Brown the onions until richly caramelised on a medium flame.
1/2 cup walnuts
for 30 to 40 seconds on HIGH in the microwave and chop them.
the walnuts and
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or 1.5 tbsp dried mint
2 tbsp concentrated tomato paste (optional)
to the onion-garlic mixture and saute a bit more. Add this to the eggplant.
Chop some more mint and garnish.
We ate some with rye crackers. We spread the rest of the eggplant mixture on a pizza base and topped it it with roasted zucchini. Bake for 10 minutes at 550 F. Then drizzle kashk on top. Highly recommended.