To match a Russian Feast...

Eggplant Caviar
Baklazhannaya Ikra
is there something wrong with me?  i like this better than caviar

-  I n g r e d i e n t s  -

Eggplants - 3 small ones, less than 1 pound each
Olive Oil - about 1/2 cup
Onions - 2 medium yellow or white, finely chopped
Green Bell Pepper - 1 finely chopped
Garlic - 4 cloves, peeled and crushed
Tomatoes - 3 fresh, blanched, peeled and finely chopped  -or-  1 28-oz can of
Plum Tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
Honey - 1 generous tsp          Salt - 1 Tbls        Black Pepper - Freshly ground, to taste
Cilantro - 1 Tbs, chopped         Fresh Dill - 1 Tbs, chopped         Lemon - 1 juiced

-  T o o l s  -

Knife, Cutting Board, Measuring Cup & Spoons
Large Frying Pan with tight Cover, Spatulas for turning and scrapping
A brightly colored Serving Bowl, Serving Spoon

-  T h e   B i g   P i c t u r e  -

This is the signature dish of a Russian appetizer table.
It's also a holy-grail dish; this is the one where it's handed-down and people get
a little bit touchy about changing the recipe.  And yet this is the dish that Russians
use to measure the skill of the cook, so you know that there are 'little secrets'
in the ingredients that don't appear in the list
(but I added two of them that Andy let me know about).

To quote Darra Goldstein, explaining the Russian background: "For those unable to afford the
luxury of fish roe (caviar) at their table, this finely chopped eggplant dish presents a tasty
alternative -- hence its nickname 'poor man's caviar.'  This spicy 'caviar' originated in the Caucasus
and was adopted by the Russians into their own cuisine.  It is best served on thick slices of black
bread.  Try to resist eating the caviar right away so the flavors can meld overnight in the

There are thousands of ways to make this dish, it can even be made with summer squash.
It can be made by just roasting all the ingredients and then pulsing them in the cuisneart.
But, be that as it may, make the classic version (and
that's a qualified statement) first,
then make your own, get the knowing-nod of approval from a Russian,
then teach it to a friend, and then become part of folklore.
This will be enough appetizer for 20+ people.

- T h e   S a u t e   a n d   E g g p l a n t   B a k e -

The day before, wash the Eggplants and place them in a baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 375 F
and put in the eggplant for 45 minutes or until tender.  Set them aside to cool.
Sauté over medium heat the 2 onions.  Give them a medium chop, and put them in the
large frying pan with the half cup of Olive Oil, proceed until they are soft, but not browned.
Then add the finely chopped green Bell Pepper and 4 cloves of Garlic to the pan,
and continue sauteing until the bell pepper softens.
Peel the cooled eggplant, chop the pulp finely, and add that to the pan.
(Sometimes it's easier to scoop out the eggplant than to peel it.)
Also add the 3 Tomatoes, or the ones from the 28 oz can, chopped.  Season with the
generous teaspoon of Honey, the Tablespoon of Salt, and Black Pepper to taste.
If it doesn't seem balanced to you, adjust the taste with the honey and/or salt.
Bring this whole mixture to a fast simmer/slow boil, then reduce the heat and let it
slow simmer with the lid on for about 1 hour, stirring twice.  After the hour is up, take off
the lid and while you occasionally stir, continue to simmer until the excess liquid has evaporated
but the mixture is not dry.  This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the consistency of the
vegetables used.  At this point, while it is still hot, add the juice of 1 fresh lemon,
the Tablespoons of finely chopped Cilantro and Dill, and a liberal amount of fresh and
finely ground Black Pepper.  Taste, adjust, taste.....  ?
And you are ready to transfer it to your beautiful serving bowl and refrigerate covered overnight.

-  T o   T h e   A p p e t i z e r   T a b l e  -

Take the bowl out, remember the serving spoon, and you are ready to party.

We would like to thank Darra Goldstein
The author of  
At the Dacha, Russian Home Cooking
This book is out of print, and it must be loved because it's hard to find used ones,
but she has others.  Go to and type in Darra Goldstein in the search box.
We have adapted her recipes here and there, but done under the watchful eye of Andy Zaharoff.

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