Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Eggplant Dip - Ikra

Blog's Category: USSR-Era Cuisine, My Staple Food

This is one of the two Russian versions of eggplant dip or saute called "Ikra" in Russian. This particular version of dip is made of raw vegetables (except baked eggplant) which makes it very healthy and nutritious dish. Another version is eggplant cooked with another vegetables - I will post this version later. Both variations are very popular in Russian community especially among those from south regions of former USSR.

What it is
It's a cooked (I prefer baking) eggplant mixed with finely minced/ground fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs.

How it's served
Traditionally it is served in a separate dish as appetizer meant to be eaten along with entree. By texture and consistency, it fits perfectly under definition of dip and, naturally, can be served with any kind of chips, crisps or crackers.

Taste Description
The dip is very flavorful because of herbs and garlic, with different taste undertones, slightly sweet-&-sour and mildly spicy. Texture is light and "easy-going".

Some side comments

This dish have heavy load of fresh garlic and may not be a great thing to take to work as part of your lunch. Although it is still goes great with your grilled meat on a sunny summer weekend.

How to store it
It will keep in a fridge for about 3-4 days.

There is a lot of them:

- any type of herb can be used - parsley is a traditional one but I like cilantro the most here;
- use any kind of vegetable oil you like, refined or not. Full-flavored, unrefined oils such as roasted hazelnut or walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil, etc. will work very nicely in here - any kind you like will do.

- If you do not have sweet onion on hand, use regular one but cut amount in a half.
- To make my life easier with "after-cooking washing", I always use foil whenever I bake something.

Eggplant Dip - Ikra

For about 1.5 quarts of final product:
2 medium whole eggplants
3 medium tomatoes, quartered or roughly chopped
1 medium sweet (Vidalia) onion, quartered or roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
2/3 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs vinegar
1 tbs sugar
5 tbs olive oil (or oil of your choice)

- On a lightly oiled baking sheet, bake whole unpeeled, uncovered eggplant until they are completely cooked - knock with your finger eggplant skin, it will feel stiff, thin and hollow. It will take about 40-60 minutes at 400-420F oven.

- Let cooked eggplants to cool down to be able to handle it. Cut them in half and using spoon, scoop out all flesh onto chopping board. Discard skins.

- Chop baked eggplant with your big scary knife - it will be easy and fun and will take just one minute. Transfer chopped eggplant in a big bowl where you will mix all ingredients together later on.

- Grind (or process) your fresh tomatoes, onions and garlic. Add all these to the eggplant.

- Add all remaining ingredients and mix everything nicely.

- Refrigerate for one hour to allow all flavors to marry and enjoy with nice crusty or toasted bread if you have nothing else to pair it with. I hope you like it, I'm sure your body systems will - it's very healthy stuff :).

After you take them out of oven, eggplant skin will "fall down".

Flesh has to be soft and fully cooked.


Layer of flesh close to skin will be brown - and that's the best part of cooked eggplant - scoop it out nicely, we want it :)

Eggplant will leak juices all the time - drain it out, we don't want our dip to be too liquid.

Chop-chop... Drain juice out..

Ground tomatoes, onion and garlic.

Before adding other ingredients, drain this extra liquid again.

..almost more thing..

chop-chop again...

..and done!

Test run - put small amount on a tortilla chip (or something else) ... Enjoy! Adjust seasonings if needed and enjoy even more!


  1. awesome recipe, thank you for this website. I am from the former soviet union also but I am 25 years old and was taken to Poland at age 5, now I live in Texas, US..and I am married, thank you for this website because I can make my mom proud and strengthen my skills in the kitchen culturally and also serve my American husband better as a wife of another cultural background. May God be with you, Lala :)

    1. Lala, I’m so glad to see your comments! This was the exact purpose of my blog - for my daughter, for my younger friends and young ladies like you to rebuild that great food culture we experienced in our childhood and get it to another level enriching it with international cuisine we are extensively exposed here, in such a super-inter-cultural country as US. Thank you for the nice words and you are always welcome. Feel free to comment or ask any questions.


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