This tasty aubergine zaalouk – a.k.a. eggplant dip – combines toasted seeds with fresh herbs and lemon juice for a wonderful dish that's vegan, gluten-free, and bursting with flavour.
Using canned tomatoes and requiring just one pan to cut down on the washing up, it can be made from start to finish in around 30 minutes (see FAQ section for notes on roasting or grilling).
You can enjoy this one warm or cold with a dunking vessel of your choice. Fresh bread seems to be the accepted norm, but I found myself polishing off the test versions with oatcakes for a bit of a Scottish-Moroccan fusion experience (at least that's what I told myself).
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What is zaalouk?
Zaalouk – sometimes spelled zalouk or za'alook – is a warm salad originating from Moroccan cuisine. Often based on a mix of cooked aubergine and tomatoes, it is flavoured with garlic and spices to create a flavourful dish with a soft, creamy consistency.
You may also like: Moroccan Couscous with Chickpeas and Roasted Veg
Is it healthy?
There is some olive oil in zaalouk, but you could cut down on this if you really wanted to. I wouldn't eliminate the oil entirely as the aubergine is otherwise likely to stick during cooking (unless you boil or steam it).
In one serving of this recipe, you'll find:
- Calories: 147 kcal
- Fibre: 6 grams (25% of RDA)
- Iron: 2 mg (11% of RDA)
- Vitamin C: 16 mg (19% of RDA)
Amounts based on a third-party nutrition calculator.
Which spices are used?
Cumin and paprika are the spices most commonly found in traditional zaalouk recipes. I also include caraway seeds, which have a nutty aniseed flavour and are often found in harissa (a chilli paste widely used in North African cuisine).
You could tweak the flavour of your dip slightly by adding other ingredients such as chilli (fresh or powder), ground coriander, cloves, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, or a few tablespoons of harissa paste.
You may also like: 15-Minute Chickpea Stew with Fennel and Caraway
What you'll need
To make this delicious eggplant dip, you'll need:
- Eggplants a.k.a. aubergines
- Tomatoes – either tinned or whole (see recipe notes)
- Lemon juice for freshness and zing
- Garlic and spices in the form of cumin, caraway, and paprika
- Fresh herbs to bring it all to life
How to make zaalouk
Note: for the best results, use a wide pan with a lid.
Heat a pan on medium heat (no oil) and add the cumin seeds and caraway seeds. Toast for a couple of minutes, moving the pan regularly, until the seeds start to gently brown and release their aroma.
In the same pan, heat the oil on a low heat and add the peeled and diced aubergine. Season with salt and pepper, stir well, cover with a lid, and cook for around 15 minutes until the aubergine has softened.
Enjoy warm or allow to cool before diving in with pieces of fresh bread or flatbread (gluten-free if necessary). Suggestions for additional toppings include:
- Chopped pistachios
- Fresh chilli
- Extra olive oil
- Extra fresh herbs
You certainly can – slice them in half, score across the surface, place on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and roast in a preheated oven (200°C / 400°F) for around 35-40 minutes or until very soft in the middle. You can then scrape out the flesh and add to the pan with the other ingredients (with the garlic already fried for a couple of minutes).
Follow the steps above for preparing, then cook beneath a hot grill for around 10-15 minutes or until blackened and soft inside. Check regularly and take care not to let the aubergine catch or burn too much.
If frying (like in this recipe), it's better to peel the aubergines so that the final dish has a creamy texture. If roasting or grilling, this isn't necessary since you can scoop the flesh out of the skin.
I'd simply chop it up and use it in the next soup or stew that I make. You could also roast the peel with a little oil and salt to create crisps.
Yes, this recipe is gluten-free as written.
Store in the fridge for three to four days or freezer for several months (allow to cool first).
Variations and tips for zaalouk
- Mashing: Make sure you mash everything thoroughly, especially when pan-frying the aubergine (vs. roasting or grilling).
- Spices: If you don't have cumin or caraway seeds, you could simply replace these amounts with ground cumin.
- Paprika: The paprika used here is regular, not smoked. If using smoked, start with around half the amount as the flavour can be a lot stronger.
- Tomatoes: In place of the tinned tomatoes, you could use an equivalent weight of fresh (peeled, seeded, and chopped).
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More vegan recipe ideas
If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy:
- Broad Bean Dip with Mint and Lemon
- Basic Homemade Hummus
- Guacamole with Tomatoes
- Crispy Baked Falafel
- Pico de Gallo (Tomato Salsa)
- Vegan Waldorf Salad
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
You can also check out my full list of vegan dips and snacks.
Moroccan Zaalouk with Cumin and Caraway
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large aubergines, peeled and diced (a.k.a. eggplants)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika (see notes)
- 1x 14 oz (400 g) tin tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Small handful fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Note: for the best results, use a wide pan with a lid.Heat a pan on medium heat (no oil) and add the cumin seeds and caraway seeds. Toast for a couple of minutes, moving the pan regularly, until the seeds start to gently brown and release their aroma. Turn off the heat and set the seeds aside in a bowl.
- In the same pan, heat the oil on a low heat and add the peeled and diced aubergine. Season with salt and pepper, stir well, cover with a lid, and cook for around 15 minutes until the aubergine has softened. Stir every now and then, adding a little extra oil if sticking (although the lid and low heat should mean this isn't necessary).
- Moroccan Couscous with Roasted Veg
- Vegan Aubergine Curry
- Teriyaki Grilled Aubergine
- Smoky Vegan Mushroom Pâté
- Tofu Cream Cheese
- Hearty Vegan Goulash
- Vegan Cucumber Raita
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