Easy and Delicious Ikra (Russian Eggplant Caviar)

They sometimes spell it Igra, either way it is delicious!
Ikra or Igra pinit

Indulge in the flavors of Easy and Delicious Ikra, a popular Russian dish also known as Eggplant Caviar. This versatile and appetizing recipe has made its way into the hearts and kitchens of many cultures including Armenians and Persians, with various interpretations and regional influences. Whether you call it Ikra, or Igra or simply enjoy it as a delightful spread, this dish holds a special place in the culinary traditions of many countries.

Often referred to as the “poor man’s caviar,” Ikra offers a budget-friendly alternative to its luxurious counterpart. It is perfect for spreading on bread or toasted slices, making it an excellent choice for small bites or cocktail parties. A garnish of fresh parsley adds a touch of elegance to this humble dish.

Ikra has found its way into Middle Eastern cuisine, where it has been embraced and adapted by different cultures. Its origins may spark debates and discussions, but what remains constant is its universal appeal as a healthy and delicious food. For me, it evokes fond memories of childhood, where its flavors brought joy to the table.

While there are many variations of Ikra, I present you with an easy and simplified version of my family recipe. In this adaptation, we simplify the preparation process without compromising the integrity and taste of the dish. However, it is important to note that cooking the eggplant does require some time and patience. The end result is undoubtedly worth the wait.

Traditionally, the recipe calls for baking or roasting the eggplants with their skin on. This cooking method not only ensures the eggplants are cooked through but also facilitates the removal of their skins before incorporating them into the main mixture. However, if you prefer to avoid the smoky flavor that can result from this technique, my simplified version below offers an alternative approach.

Instead of using four large eggplants, you will need a half kilogram or one pound of tomatoes, two onions, a cup of olive oil, and some green pepper for a hint of spiciness. The eggplants are prepared by baking or grilling them and then peeling off the skin. The tomatoes are boiled, peeled, and chopped, while the onions and pepper are sautéed. The eggplants and tomatoes are combined and cooked until the mixture is reduced to perfection. The recipe I share below simplifies the process and uses less oil, while still capturing the essence of this beloved dish.

Whether you’re exploring the flavors of Russian cuisine, looking for a delectable appetizer, or simply seeking to add more variety to your culinary repertoire, Easy and Delicious Ikra invites you to savor its enticing flavors and embrace its cultural heritage.

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Easy and Delicious Ikra (Russian Eggplant Caviar)

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 15 mins Cook Time 120 mins Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 6

Description

In this recipe, the preparation is much easier but the cooking time is the same.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot and sautée the chopped onion, and garlic then cover and reduce heat until you get some color on them. Stir them occasionally so it cooks evenly and does not burn
    chopped onion
  2. This is the part I simplified, instead of baking and peeling I simply peel first, chop and sautée instead of baking peeling and then cooking it.

  3. Chop the eggplants and salt them a bit. This usually helps to remove any bitter taste from the eggplants.
    chopped eggplants
  4. Boil some water in a pot and add the tomatoes after a couple of minutes you see the skins crack. Just transfer the tomatoes to ice water. This will make it easier to peel them. You can use them whole with the skin but then the skin does not dissolve well when it is cooked. So use the meat of the tomatoes.
    tomatoes in ice water
  5. Peel and chop tomatoes
    peeled tomatoes
  6. With a bit of olive oil sautée the chopped eggplant until they start to soften.
    eggplants
  7. Add the tomatoes, eggplants, the can of chopped tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato paste ( I used to tubes they are great for adding small quantities, I add the canned tomatoes and the paste to give more color and taste. These days many of the tomatoes we buy in grocery stores do not ripen completely under the sun and do not have full flavor and color). Add the salt and pepper
    ikra
  8. Then starts the longer cooking. First on high heat cook the mixture and keep mixing so it does not stick to the bottom or burn.  Then lower the heat and continue for at least 30 minutes.

    Ikra
  9. Different people like different consistency in their Ikra. I personally like it well-cooked, so I simmer the Ikra on low to medium heat for almost 1.5 hours stirring occasionally so it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. You are not really cooking it but reducing its water content. When the Ikra reduces and all the ingredients almost melt into each other, it is ready. Though you can eat it warm (not hot) it is best after it is cold and refrigerated. You can keep it for many days and enjoy or use it at a party. Ikra takes longer to make but does not last long!! It is so delicious before you know it, it is gone! Приятного аппетита! Bon Appetit

     

    Ikra
Keywords: Tomato, Eggplant, Appetizer, Cold, Russian, Middle Eastern, Vegetarian, Spread, Prepare Ahead
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