This is a special recipe for me and one that I’ve been meaning to make for 10 years or more.
I was introduced to Iranian or Persian foods in the ’90s in Madison, Wisconsin at a wonderful restaurant called Caspian Cafe. The restaurant has been closed for some years, but its colorful co-owner and chef, Mohila Nateghi, has a web site here. She typically had a smile for guests and did a great job of pointing the neophyte to her best options on the menu that day, such as the crispy part of her lubia polow or her dill rice.
One of my favorites was, and is, mirza ghasemi, the wonderful dish of scrambled egg, eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic. Mohila’s version was absolutely loaded with garlic; whenever it was on the day’s lunch menu, I knew I would smell of garlic the rest of the workday, but that did not dissuade… it was so good.
For preparation details, see detailed recipes linked below (at bottom of post). I used them roughly as is, except used a combination of canned and fresh tomato and added smoked paprika to the mirza ghasemi. Unusually, I also chopped the roasted eggplant length-wise and and width-wise with a chef’s knife to cut their skin into pieces; while atypical to include the eggplant skin in the dish (rather than peeling it after roasting) I didn’t find the skin in any way objectionable since I roasted the eggplant in the oven rather than over open flame (which would then add an undesirable burnt flavor if the skin were included).
The restaurant served all its entrees with a number of sides, one of which was a tasty flatbread that was likely a version of Tandoori or Barbari bread.
(Here’s an interesting video show how such bread is made in a Tandoori oven.)
For this meal, paired with Barbari bread, one must start preparing the bread first… perhaps 4 hours in advance. I made the bread dough and had it initially rise in the refrigerator for a couple hours.
(Here’s a short video showing a similar preparation of the bread, but with different volumes, times, and temperature.)
Having previously attempted to roast eggplant over the open flame of a gas stovetop and having it be undercooked, this time I decided to bake them in the oven (40 minutes at 425° F) and then finished under the broiler to just begin to blister, but not burn, the skin.
Near the end of the cooking on the stovetop, I poured beaten egg (3 large) into 6 holes in the eggplant, tomato mixture, and continued cooking until the egg solidified, then stirred and allowed to cool about 20 minutes before serving.
The Barbari bread was topped with sesame seed and baked on a pre-heated pizza pan (500° F) for about 15 minutes, until it browned nicely.
I served the mirza ghasemi garnished with walnut pieces and accompanied by a piece of bread.
Here are the recipes I consulted to prepare this dish:
I really enjoyed this meal that reminds me both of my introduction to wonderful foods of the world and friends from far-off lands; I hope you enjoy it too!