Georgian Fried Eggplant Roll-Ups
As I mentioned earlier this year, I absolutely adore one of my newest cookbook acquisitions, Taste of Persia, A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan. So even though I try to not have “favorites” since I have so many cookbooks waiting to be explored by trying out a new recipe, I actually returned to Taste of Persia not too long after I made the delicious Georgian Paghlava (click here to access that recipe post).
I settled on a recipe that was a bit more time consuming than the paghlava but one whose main ingredient is one of my favorite foods, fried eggplant roll-ups or badrigiani as it’s known in Georgian. The filling features a ground walnut paste and while I’m not the biggest fan of walnuts, the other ingredients definitely help in masking their taste. Even though the inclusion of the powdered dried red chiles was listed as optional, including it is a surefire way to truly lessen the taste of nuts.
I’m just an amateur cook with no formal culinary training, so my eggplant strips were not remotely as pristine perfect as those featured in the cookbook’s pictures, nor did my strips get as compressed as they probably should have but you make do because at the end of the day, I feel taste outweighs look, especially when you’re cooking for just you and a family member.
The one recommendation I have is to make the filling a day in advance. It was obviously the easiest part of the recipe (the eggplant portion did require a bit of time and energy) but at least you know that once the eggplant strips are ready to go, the filling is ready to be spread on the strip.
And while the recipe advises serving the roll-ups at room temperature, I actually heated mine before eating. Although I know that probably goes against every Georgian ბებია (grandmother), I just like hot food, it’s as simple as that. But overall, Georgian food continues to impress me.
Badrigiani (Fried Eggplant Roll-Ups)
Recipe courtesy of Taste of Persia
-5 narrow Asian eggplants, about 12 inches long; or 10 Asian eggplants, about 8 inches long; or 2 pounds Mediterranean eggplant
-About 3 tablespoons sunflower or extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup walnuts or walnut pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon powdered dried fenugreek plus 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon powdered dried red chiles (optional)
1/2 cup minced fresh coriander
1/2 cup minced fresh mint
3 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
-Trim the stems off the eggplants and discard. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick strips; if the eggplants are very long or very wide, cut the slices in half lengthwise to yield strips 4 to 6 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Lay the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle on salt generously. Set another baking sheet on top and weight it down with a heavy cast-iron pan (or set up an equivalent arrangement) and set the eggplant aside for an hour or so to drain and compress.
-Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine the walnuts, garlic, ground spices, salt, and chiles in a food processor or a mortar and process or pound to blend thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the herbs, scallions, and vinegar or lemon juice.
-Rinse the eggplant strips throughly in a colander and squeeze dry. Place a wide heavy skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons oil, and heat until hot. Slide some eggplant strips into the oil, without crowding, lower the heat to medium, and fry, turning once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Lift out onto a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet and set aside until cool enough to handle. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more oil as necessary and heating it until hot before adding more eggplant.
-Spread some filling on each eggplant strip, roll up, and set seam side down on a platter. Serve at room temperature.