roasted eggplant dip with african spice mix and fresh herbs

On our recent trip to Africa, I picked up a very unusually named spice mix called chakalaka from a spice market in Cape Town. It is an incredibly fragrant and colorful bell pepper and chili pepper blend from South Africa. However, it is more difficult to find in the United States, so I would recommend using instead a blend of equal parts chili pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and cumin. This warm eggplant dip is delicious when spiced with a number of different spice blends. It is creamy, smooth, and tastes delicious served with pita chips or bread slices. 

  • Fresh eggplants (2 whole, medium-sized)

  • Tahini (2 tablespoons)

  • Fresh garlic (2 teaspoons, pureed or very finely minced)

  • Lemon juice (2 teaspoons)

  • Chakalaka African spice mix (2 tablespoons; you could also use the recommended spice blend above)

  • Salt (1 and 1/2 teaspoons)

  • Plain yogurt (2 teaspoons)

  • Olive oil (4 tablespoons)

  • Fresh parsley (2 teaspoons, roughly chopped for garnish)

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Puncture the outside of the eggplant skin with a fork several times. Place the two whole eggplants on a baking sheet and set in the oven. Roast for 45 minutes, turning the eggplants periodically with tongs to ensure even browning. When done, the eggplants should appear very brown and slightly deflated from roasting.

  3. Remove the eggplants to a cutting board and let cool.

  4. Remove the outer charred skin of the eggplants and transfer the inside flesh to a food processor. Discard the skin.

  5. Add all the remaining ingredients except the parsley garnish to the food processor and turn on. Blend until the dip is smooth and all ingredients are evenly incorporated. Taste and adjust with additional seasoning if necessary, or add olive oil if it is too chunky.

  6. Serve in a bowl and garnish with the chopped parsley and additional spice mix, along with pita chips on the side.

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