While not Israeli in origin (chermoula is actually a Moroccan condiment), this dish speaks to the many culinary influences of Israel's North African and Middle Eastern neighbors. The sauce is wonderfully complex--bright, herbaceous, and spicy. Israel has a vegetable-centric cuisine (they are eaten at every meal); cooking vegetables over an open flame until deeply charred is a favorite cooking method.
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 2 pounds)
How to Make It
Heat a dry skillet over medium heat. Add cumin and coriander seeds; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Crush seeds with a mortar and pestle or a small heavy skillet. Add rind, salt, paprika, red pepper, and garlic; mash to form a paste. Place spice mixture, cilantro, parsley, and juice in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, scraping sides of bowl as needed. With processor on, slowly pour olive oil through food chute, processing just until blended.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Arrange one-fourth of eggplant slices in pan; cook 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until browned and tender (slightly charred is even better). Place cooked eggplant on a platter. Repeat procedure 3 times with cooking spray and remaining eggplant. Drizzle cilantro mixture over eggplant.
Our family found the chermoula to be completely overpowering. Also, who came up with the 14min hands on time for this recipe??? Maybe if you have a team in your kitchen. For the average person, count on about 40 min of prep time and 30 min to cook the eggplant. This just didn't taste justify the effort for a side dish.
This may not be a fair review. Got home from the market to discover the coriander seeds I grabbed were actually caraway seeds (yes I need glasses). I also was out of parsley and so doubled the cilantro. The final change was to grill the eggplant. Still tasty and I would make it again.
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