Avjar is a Croation condiment antipasti with basic mediterranean elements, not unlike Turkish salad in Israel. It’s fundamental ingredient is roasted eggplant, another staple in Middle-eastern/Mediterranean cuisine.
I was always a little intimidated by the process of roasting the eggplant, a friend’s grandmother when I was much younger showed me how she directly put the eggplant over the gas burner and I thought “this looks easy, but scary”.
Shakshuka is an Israeli breakfast staple found in kiosks all over the country, kept warm on a wide circular electric cooker. It’s a cultural favorite that is offered any time of day in Israeli homes, eggs cooked over a tomato-pepper based sauce.
I decided to make a dinner entree fusing the two related dishes and dress it with spiced ground beef and tahini sauce.
Begin by roasting eggplant over the fire, place aluminum foil around burner to catch mess of eggplant skin flakes. When eggplant is fully roasted, skin should be charred and pull away from the eggplant flesh which is now soft and yellowish in color. Leave stem on and set aside to cool. Later peel off charred skin and use eggplant flesh in recipe.
roasted eggplant flesh
can of chopped, peeled, seeded tomatoes
small yellow onion
1 pound ground beef
2 garlic cloves
Cumin, cinnamon, smoked paprika
Fry chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until clear and cooked through, add green pepper and cook until soft, add chopped charred eggplant flesh. Add tablespoon of smoked paprika, teaspoon of cumin and teaspoon of cinnamon and juice of half lemon. Add canned tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, you now have the base of my version of Avjar.
Fry ground beef in olive oil adding a tablespoon of shwarma spice. Fry until cooked through. In a blender as a side condiment pour raw tahini sauce in blender, add lemon and water and a clove of garlic to individual taste. Blend in some parsley sprigs and salt to taste. Sauce should have an almost pourable consistency.
Over simmering Avjar base crack open a few raw eggs and let simmer, covered until poached.
Serve dish with hamburger mix and tahini on side with crusty bread. Can be a great vegetarian dish without the ground beef addition.