Slavic eggplant spread, also known as Ikra or Ikra Baklazhannaya, is a beloved traditional dish and staple in Eastern European countries.
The recipe is often cooked with a few tweaks depending on the origin.
This Eggplant caviar spread is known for its smoky, savory flavor with a hint of sweetness from the roasted eggplant and tomatoes.
Why you’ll love it
Unique Flavor Profile: Slavic eggplant spread offers a distinct and unique flavor profile.
Versatility in Serving: It can be enjoyed as a dip with bread, crackers, or vegetable sticks or used as a condiment or spread in sandwiches, wraps, or even as a topping for grilled meats.
Wholesome and Nutritious: Eggplants, the main ingredient in the spread, are low in calories and rich in nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly: Ikra is naturally vegetarian and vegan-friendly, making it an excellent choice for individuals following plant-based diets.
Easy to Make: Slavic eggplant spread is relatively simple to prepare, requiring just a handful of ingredients and basic cooking techniques.
Meal Prep. It can be made ahead of time, making it a convenient option for gatherings or meal prepping.
Here is a visual overview of the ingredients you will need for this recipe with step-by-step photos and tips below. If you are looking for a simple recipe card, scroll down to the bottom of this page.
Eggplant: Choose fresh eggplants that are firm, with smooth and unblemished skin. Look for eggplants that feel heavy for their size. The size of the eggplant can vary, but medium-sized ones are generally a good choice.
Garlic: Select fresh garlic cloves with a firm texture and no signs of mold or sprouting. The cloves should have a strong aroma when you crush or mince them.
Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is commonly used in eggplant spread. Look for a good-quality olive oil with a fresh, fruity aroma. Cold-pressed or first-pressed oils often have more flavor and aroma.
Salt and Pepper: Use high-quality salt and freshly ground black pepper to enhance the overall flavor. Fine sea salt or kosher salt are commonly used for its clean taste.
How to Make Ikra
Step 1. Gather the ingredients. Peel and dice eggplants, chop tomatoes, and dice onion small.
Step 2. Preheat the skillet on medium-high heat. Once preheated, add two tablespoons of olive oil, add chopped eggplant and diced tomatoes, and fry on high for a couple of minutes while continually stirring.
Step 3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes till the mixture is soft and golden. Once the caviar is soft, add finely chopped garlic, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Stir to combine, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Choose small or medium-sized eggplants; these are less bitter. The best eggplants should be heavy, firm, and shiny.
Use quality olive oil; it really makes the dish.
Use a large cast-iron pan; this will help with stirring and not to have an overcrowded pan. The eggplant caviar will reduce in volume once it’s cooked.
Taste at the end and adjust salt and balsamic vinegar based on your taste buds.
How to make ikra taste good
To make an eggplant spread recipe taste even better, you can consider the following tips and variations:
Olive Oil: Quality extra-virgin olive oil contributes to the overall taste and richness of the spread. Consider using flavorful olive oil for a more pronounced taste. You can drizzle a little extra olive oil on top before serving to add extra richness and sheen.
Additional Flavors: Customize the spread with additional ingredients for extra flavor. You can add roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, or fresh herbs like parsley, basil, or mint. These additions will introduce new dimensions of taste and complexity.
Texture: If you prefer a chunkier texture, mash the roasted eggplant with a fork instead of blending it completely. I prefer serving this dish with a chunky texture; if you would like your eggplant caviar to have a more smooth and spreadable texture, add the eggplant caviar to the food processor and pulse until desired consistency.
Resting Time: Allow the flavors to meld together by refrigerating the spread for at least an hour before serving. This resting time will enhance the taste and allow the ingredients to harmonize.
What to serve with Ikra
This Ikra pairs well with various foods, adding a rich and savory flavor to complement different textures and tastes.
Here are some suggestions for what to serve with eggplant spread:
Pita Bread: Traditional pita bread is a classic choice for serving with eggplant spread. Cut the pita bread into wedges or triangles for easy dipping. You can toast or warm the pita chips for added texture.
Crackers or Crispbreads: Serve your eggplant spread with a selection of crisp crackers or whole-grain crispbreads. Look for options with a mild flavor that won’t overpower the taste of the spread.
Toasted Baguette Slices: Slice a baguette into thin rounds and toast them until they are lightly crispy. The toasty bread provides a sturdy base for spreading the eggplant spread.
Flatbread or Lavash: Serve eggplant spread with soft, thin flatbread or lavash. You can cut them into manageable pieces for dipping or even use them as a wrap, spreading the eggplant spread inside along with other fillings.
Sandwiches or Wraps: Use the eggplant spread as a delicious spread or condiment for sandwiches or wraps. It pairs well with grilled vegetables, roasted meats, or even as a vegetarian option with fresh greens.
Grilled Meats or Fish: Serve a dollop of eggplant spread alongside grilled meats like chicken, beef, or lamb. It can also be a flavorful side dish to grilled or baked fish, adding depth and richness to the dish.
How to Store ikra
To store leftover eggplant spread, follow these steps:
Transfer to the airtight container or use plastic wrap to cover tightly the dish.
Smooth the surface. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the surface of the spread, removing any air pockets. This helps to preserve its freshness and prevent oxidation.
Seal the container tightly: Ensure that the container is tightly sealed to prevent air from entering and maintain the quality of the spread.
Refrigerate promptly: Place the container with the eggplant spread in the refrigerator as soon as possible. The cooler temperature of the refrigerator will help slow down the growth of bacteria and keep the spread fresh.
Label and date: To keep track of the storage time, label the container with the date it was stored. Eggplant spread can typically be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
When ready to consume the leftover eggplant spread, take out the desired amount and return the remaining portion to the refrigerator promptly. Always use clean utensils to prevent contamination.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it necessary to peel the eggplant before cooking?
No, unless there are imperfections, you want to remove. Washing the eggplant in this recipe is enough to prep before starting to cube it.
2eggplantmedium-sized, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
3Roma tomatoeslarge, diced
1 1/2tspsea salt
Gather the ingredients. Peel and dice eggplants, chop tomatoes, dice onion small.
Preheat the skillet on medium-high heat. Once preheated, add two tablespoons of olive oil, add diced vegetables, and fry on high for a couple of minutes while continually stirring.
Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes till the mixture is soft and golden.
Once the caviar is soft, add finely chopped garlic, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Stir to combine, and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Tips for best flavor. Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar first and start with a teaspoon of salt. Adjust the flavor based on your taste buds. Serving suggestions. Serve as a side dish or on top of your favorite bread, sourdough bread would work great here. For a low-carb serving option, use wrapped in the lettuce. Storing Suggestions. Store in the air-tight container in the fridge.
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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Hi there, I’m Natalia. I’m so glad you stopped by! Here you’ll find the most useful cooking tips and answers to food questions. I focus on creating simple recipes and making sure they are extra flavorful and worthy of your time! Browse our step-by-step recipes and explore new flavors!