My husband attended high school in Turkey under the AFS Intercultural Programs and has retained not only an understanding of the language of his host family but also a weakness for Ottoman cuisine. I’ve been seduced by that country’s culinary traditions too, especially any dish made with eggplants, aka aubergines.
Flipping through a 1950s British cookery book yesterday I found a recipe for aubergine salad, which is known as patlican salatsi in Turkey and more familiarly as baba ghanoush elsewhere. Since the authors of Plats du Jour, or Foreign Food (Penguin Books, 1958) explained that their charmingly illustrated compilation of recipes from lands far and wide was “not intended as an armchair cookery book” but instead was “designed for action in the kitchen,” I decided to honour that admonishment and get up and get busy. Good thing I did too, because a late-afternoon snack of aubergine salad served with crisp flatbread was exactly what my tastebuds required.
This recipe is all about proportions, so use as many eggplants as you feel necessary, based on the crowd expected. Since we are only three—me, my husband, and our daughter—I used two large eggplants, which made about 2-1/2 cups of this tasty dip.
SOURCE: Plats du Jour, or Foreign Food by Patience Gray and Primrose Boyd (Penguin Books, 1958)
Leave the aubergines whole and bake them in a moderate [350 degrees Fahrenheit] oven until they are quite soft. [NOTE: I cut the aubergines in half and brushed the cut side with olive oil before placing in the oven.] Then cut each one in half and scoop out the soft pulp, discarding the skins. Put the pulp into a bowl with some very finely chopped raw shallot, a little salt, and some black pepper, blend in sufficient lemon juice and 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil. Put the salad in a cold place and stir it well before it is served with crisp bread or toast.