Mirza Ghassemi is a delicious blend of creamy baked eggplant, tomatoes, lots of garlic and egg. There is something poetic about the combination of eggplant and tomato……Italians have Caponata, the French have Ratatouille, the Lebanese have Menazzaleh and we Iranians have Mirza Ghassemi.
Mirza Ghassemi is a Northern Iranian dish from the Gilan province. The first time I remember tasting it was in my student days at a restaurant in Montreal. As an eggplant and garlic lover I was instantly in love! I had never cooked an Iranian dish in my entire life but I called home immediately and demanded a recipe from my mother. My roommate and I attempted to re-create the dish and were surprised at how simple it was. It became a regular part of our cooking repertoire and hopefully it will become part of yours as well.
(serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course)
1 large eggplant
1 small onion (or half a medium onion), thinly sliced
¼ tsp turmeric
3 big cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tsp tomato paste
1 egg, slightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Pierce the eggplant several times with a fork and rub 1 tsp olive oil on the outside. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until very tender. Peel the eggplant and chop the pulp in a bowl and then mash it with a fork.
Heat 1 tbsp of canola oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the onion until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. If the pan get too dry add another tsp of oil. If it browns too quickly turn down the heat slightly. Add ¼ tsp turmeric. Then add the minced garlic cloves and cook for about 3 minutes over medium heat till slightly golden and fragrant.
Add another tbsp of oil, the eggplant pulp and the chopped tomatoes. Saute over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Make a well in the centre of the eggplant tomato mixture and pour in a slightly beaten egg. Leave for about 10 seconds and then start stirring the egg into the mixture. Cook for another minute or two until the egg is cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with warmed pita as an appetizer or with basmati rice for a delicious vegetarian main course.