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Istanbul Eats Cooks: Zübeyir’s Eggplant Smokeout

Editor’s note: As much as we love eating out, sometimes nothing can beat a home-cooked meal. But recently we started thinking about killing two birds with one stone and learning how to make at home dishes from some of our favorite Istanbul restaurants. With that in mind, we are happy to present “Istanbul Eats Cooks,” a new feature that will showcase recipes straight from the kitchens of restaurants reviewed on our site and in our book. Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months for more recipes.

For years, we’ve been praising Zübeyir Usta – the ever-smiling grill master at Zübeyir [2], one of our all-time favorite spots – for his intoxicating mashed roasted eggplant dip (seen above), a simple dish that still manages to hit a whole number of complex yet very satisfying notes. The dish’s name, közde patlıcan, or “eggplants over coals,” is true to that smoky flavor that only a good charcoal fire can deliver.

Recently, Zübeyir Usta invited us behind the grill and then into the kitchen for a tutorial and we are happy to present what we learned.

(Serve as an appetizer or side dish for four people.)

1 large eggplant
1 medium tomato
2 long green peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 wedge of fresh lemon

Cut the tomato in half and skewer it along with the peppers.
Char the eggplant, tomato and peppers over glowing hardwood coals (the eggplant should be placed right on the coals, the other vegetables just above them). When the eggplant is soft, remove all vegetables from the fire and peel the charred skin.
Finely chop the tomatoes and peppers, mixing them together until they reach the desired consistency. Chop the eggplant finely and mix it with the other vegetables on a cutting board. Mix in the garlic, spices, lemon juice and olive oil. Serve warm with fresh lavash or flatbread.
[3] [4]

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