This Sephardic dish from Edirne, in Turkey, is of Hispano-Arabic origin. The giveaway is the sprinkling of sugar on the fried eggplant. Some recipes direct you to salt the eggplant or soak it in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes, then squeeze it dry before dipping it in the egg and frying it. Claudia Roden believes that no soaking is needed if you dip the slices in egg before frying. The recipe also appears in La table juive as a Rosh Hashanah dish. What is unusual in this recipe is that the eggplants are fried and then cooked again in the oven. This is probably not necessary, as the slices are certainly cooked through after the frying. So, you could stop immediately after the frying and just sprinkle the slices with salt and sugar and eat them. Sugar and eggplant seem like an odd combination, but in the Middle East baby eggplants are also preserved in sugar syrup and eaten as a sweet at the end of the meal.
Peel the eggplants and slice them vertically about
In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large sauté pan and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, dip the eggplant slices in the beaten eggs, in batches, and slip them into the oil. Fry until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then place in the prepared baking dish.
When the bottom of the dish is completely covered, sprinkle the eggplant with sugar and salt. Repeat, sprinkling each layer with more sugar and salt, until all the eggplant slices have been used. Drizzle the surface with oil.
Bake until the eggplant is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Serve hot or warm directly from the dish.
© 2000 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.