Tuesday, 27 May 2008

eggplant w tahini-yoghurt dressing

This is a really simple dish to make but nonetheless it adds something different to your table.

The sweetness of the eggplant is counter balanced with the gorgeous sour and nutty flavour of the dressing, touched up with garlic, sumac and lemon juice.

I highly recommend this dish, either as a salad or side dish, or even as a small starter.

Grilled Eggplant w Tahini-Yoghurt Dressing

Anna’s variation on a recipe by
Peter Evans. Serves 4 as a side dish.

1 eggplant, sliced long and thin
100ml plain yoghurt
30ml tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ teaspoon sumac
2 tablespoons parsley leaves, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes
Cracked pepper
Olive oil, for frying
Sumac, for garnish


1. Grill the eggplant on the BBQ or frypan with the oil, until golden brown.

2. Combine tahini, yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, pepper, sea salt flakes and sumac to form a sauce.

3. Place the eggplant slices on a serving plate and drizzle with the dressing. Garnish with parlsey leaves and additional sumac.

Sumac is the name of all 250 species of flowering plants from the genus Rhus.

Also known as sumach, sumak, summak, tanner’s sumach, sommacco, zumaque and sammak, in this particular case sumac refers to the spice created from grinding the Rhus coriaria’s dried berries. This produces a tart, sour deep red-purple powder which is extremely popular in Arabic, Levant, Persian and Turkish cuisine.

Sumac berries form tight clusters of red drupes or bobs. They are harvested just before ripeness and sun dried. In growing regions you can buy whole dried berries whereas the rest of us need to make do with sumac powders. The powder keeps in an airtight container for several months.

The Rhus coriaria comes from the Mediterranean but sumac in general grows in subtropical and warm temperate regions throughout the world. It has been used in Mediterranean cooking since Ancient Rome and is a major souring agent in Middle Eastern cooking, replacing lemon juice, tamarind and vinegars.

There are numerous ways to employ sumac in your kitchen:
• on kebabs, fish or chicken before grilling
• popular in salad dressings, marinades, stews and casseroles
• enhances the flavour of fresh tomatoes and avocados
• mixed with yoghurt and fresh herbs as a dip or sauce
• dusted over feta or labneh cheese
• mixed with olive oil as a dip with bread
• common ingredient in za'atar (a spice mix)

North American sumac is also employed for culinary purposes. Native Americans used smooth sumac (Rhus glabra) and staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) to make rhus juice, also known as sumac-ade or Indian lemonade. They would soak the sumac berry clusters in water to remove the essence then strain and sweeten the liquid.

Other North American sumac includes Rhus glabra, an excellent leather tanner which produces flexible, light weight and almost white leather products, and Rhus toxicodendron, also known as Poison Ivy.

Sumac is said to have diuretic effects and the assist bowel problems and fever. In the Middle East a sour drink is made from sumac to relieve indigestion.

And one last weird fact: dried sumac wood glows under UV lighting. Who would have thought!

That’s it for WHB for another week. Check out the recap with our host Wandering Chopsticks.

References & Photo Source:



  1. I am interested in much cooking that food culture and you of your country make. And I support your site. If there is time, please come in my site. From Japan

  2. Hi Anna,
    Thanks for your submission. I love sumac sprinkled over a Middle Eastern salad. I didn't know there were so many other uses for it though!

  3. Anna, these are grilled perfectly and the sauce is a refreshing twist with Sumac.

  4. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous. Must send this recipe to my brother who loves eggplant and just bought some sumac!

  5. That looks like a tasty way to enjoy eggplant.


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