I find fried eggplant so tasty and so satisfying that I feel like I could it every other day. Yesterday, I made fried eggplant with rice and tomatoes for lunch and served it without any meat whatsoever. It was so delicious and, importantly, so satisfying that I didn't feel like I needed any meat.
This fried eggplant dish is typical of Georgia (country) and has that native Mediterranean flavor to it, the flavor of roasted vegetables and olive oil. It has no specific name and is simply called fried eggplant with rice and tomatoes. There are many variations of this dish in Georgia, and typically rice and tomatoes are stuffed inside eggplant, then fried in a pan, or even stewed with some liquid, until fully cooked.
In my recipe, I wanted as much distinct fried flavor as possible so I fried eggplant, then onions and rice, to get as much caramelization and flavor as possible. I then finished cooking in oven. The taste and the flavors were exactly how I wanted them. I might even add that they exceeded my expectations.
- 2 eggplants
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley (minced)
- 2 tomatoes (sliced into 12 slices)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Ground black pepper (to taste)
- 6 Tbsp olive oil (plus more as needed)
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Rinse the eggplants, cut off stems and cut in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt liberally and set aside.
- In a large non-stick frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the eggplant halves, two at a time, on both sides, turning about every 30 seconds, until dark golden brown. Add more oil as you are frying the eggplant as they tend to soak it in. You want the frying pan to have some oil on the bottom. If you see that it looks dry, it’s a good time to add a little more oil.
- Remove the eggplant from the frying pan and transfer to a baking sheet or a baking dish, cut side up. Sprinkle some more salt over the top of the eggplant halves. If you don't they will taste a little under-salted.
- In the same frying pan, brown the onion over medium-high heat until golden brown. Add the rice, parsley, tomato paste and stir well. Cook for another minute frequently stirring. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool down.
- Spread rice and onion mixture over the eggplant pieces, pressing down gently to make it stick.
- Top each fried eggplant half with 3 tomato slices. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.
- Transfer the eggplant into oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, drizzle with some more olive oil, and sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley and/or coriander and serve.