Eggplant-Walnut Rolls feat. Iberi Choir

Situated at the crossroads of East and West, Georgia has fallen within the orbit of many cultural influences and empires. One of the earliest Christian civilizations, Georgia has endured its share of invasions and Georgian food is well reflective of its past. In the times of peace, as merchants carried goods and spices along the Great Silk Road, Georgians embraced new seasonings and methods, adopted and incorporated foreign ingredients and styles into their own. Throughout the centuries, Georgian food has been influenced by the Mediterranean world, Arab and Mongol flavours, Persian and Ottoman kitchens, the link stretching as far as Northern India. Today’s Georgian food and cuisine is a rich interplay between Mediterranean and Middle Eastern tastes. Herbs like tarragon, flat parsley, dill and coriander combine with walnuts and garlic for rich fillings and sauces.

I have chosen this particular dish from endless variety, because I love eggplants and walnuts.

Iberi channels Georgia’s multitude of sounds, exploring the emotional potential of age-old polyphony and traditional instruments. These are songs so beautiful, they were declared an intangible cultural treasure by UNESCO. Georgians sing about every aspect of life and the Iberi Choir repertoire includes a number of working songs, lullabies, liturgical chants, historical war ballads and feast songs from all regions of Georgia. The feast songs intimately entwined with Georgia’s notoriously abundant hospitality. As every cook has its own personal touch to the known recipe, so does Iberi. Based on improvisation – an important aspect of Georgian singing tradition, they present their own interpretation of old songs. Find out more about the Iberi Choir

Ingredients

2 big eggplants
125 g (4.4 ounces) shelled walnuts
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp blue fenugreek powder, or kasoori methi powder
1/2 tsp marigold powder, or turmeric
1/4 tsp (or according to taste) chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
100 ml (3.5 ounces) sunflower oil (or olive oil)
100 g (3.5 ounces) cilantro
50 – 100 ml (1.6 – 3.5 ounces) water
Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate, for decoration

Makes about 20 rolls, depending on the eggplant size.

Preparation

1. Cut eggplants lengthwise in about 5mm thick slices, sprinkle with salt and let it stand for about an hour.

2. Drain the liquid, gently squeeze the slices to remove excess liquid.

3. Fry the eggplant on both sides in sunflower, or olive oil. Place on a cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain.

4. Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic film and allow to cool around 15 min to become soft and easy to roll.

5. For the filling, grind walnuts and garlic together in a food processor to create a paste.

6. Add spices, cilantro, vinegar and water and process till everything is well combined.

7. Spread around 1 tsp of the filling on the fried eggplant slices and roll them. If there will be some paste over, you can use it as a pesto :).

8. Decorate with pomegranate seeds and cilantro leaves. Serve cold.

Enjoy!