Saturday, March 23, 2013

Eggplant Walnut Rollups

Blog's Category:  USSR-era Recipes, My Staple Food

Eggplant Walnut Rollups

I have made eggplant rollups before, many times, with various fillings, but this time I was determined to make it authentically Georgian. Georgia is a great place on Earth, one of the former Soviet republic, known to us, former soviets, as the most hospitable and lavish among all republics, rich in its ancient culinary and wine consuming traditions.
In Ukraine, Georgian cuisine was always ranked extremely high because of its herbacious, spicy and exotic flavors: large amount of spices and herbs are the most distinctive feature of Georgian food. Now, after years of learning and cooking all-over-the-world recipes, I can tell that Georgian cuisine is some kind of fusion of Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines with its own special unspeakable Georgian charm that we all, "soviets", love.

Getting back to our eggplant rollups... Scrolling through numerious blogs of native Georgian home cooks (in Russian language), I discovered the recipe of that special walnut filling used in many authentic Georgian dishes. Great eggplant dishes with nutty filling that I enjoyed many years ago in my previous life, bubbled up in my mind and I dicided to make these eggplant rollups.

And hey, this is not the end of "Georgian road" for me - I know that I'll put my hand on other distinct Georgian dishes - they are lovely and I can't wait to try them out.

Besides being tasty, it is ...
- healthy - dah...
- it's a great hor's doeuvre food
- very original, one of a kind appetizer

Taste Description
This recipe does not have much "spicy spice" in it but it has an enormous amount of layered flavors of a perfect combination of herbs, spices and garlic. Relatively bland taste of eggplant taken up at a sky-high level with that very special herby-ness and distinctive flavor of a walnut filling. Texture is soft, buttery and delicate, with a tiny graininess of ground walnuts. It's a pleasure on a plate!
How to Serve
Serve it at room temperature or cold. It will keep in your fridge for a several days.

Eggplant Walnut Rollups

  • 2 medium-small eggplants, sliced along into 1/4" slices
  • olive oil for frying
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dry fenugreek seeds (ground) or dry fenugreek leaves, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds (preferably homemade : dry roasted and then ground)
  • 1 tsp ground red chili pepper
  • 2 tbs wine vinegar
  • 1 cup (or more) boiling hot water
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • dash of salt to taste

- In a non-stick skillet with a 1 or 2 tbs of olive oil, fry eggplant slices on both sides until golden-brown and completely cooked (poked with a fork at the stem-side edge, they have to be soft). To speed up the process use 2 skillets at a time.

- When all eggplant pieces are cook, let them cool down. Meanwhile prepare walnut filling - process walnuts with a garlic, ground fenugreek, ground coriander and red chili pepper into medium-course mixture.

- Transfer ground walnut mixture into a bowl, add boiling water and mix walnut mix nicely. Add more water if needed - you have to get medium-thick, a little runny somewhat grainy paste (note that it will thicken when cooled down). Let it cool down for 10-15 minutes - walnuts will swell and boost its flavor. Then add some salt, wine vinegar and chopped cilantro.

- When both, eggplant pieces and filling, are cool, start rolling up - spread about 1 tsp of filling on a eggplant slice (stay away from the edges for a neat rollups) and roll eggplant up.

- Place rollups on a plate, sprinkle with some cilantro and red chili pepper and serve. Enjoy!


I'm still a bit clumsy using chopsticks for cooking but I see them as much more esthetic, convenient tool for this specific task of frying eggplant slices than any other kitchen utensils.

It looks a little runny but it will become thicker shortly (see shot below) 

Important Notes
- When frying eggplant, it may seem to you that there is not enough oil - don't  be tempted to add more oil -  just turn heat lower not to burn them and let them dry-cook to let it cook through. Flip over, give it a tiny splash of oil and cook this side in a same manner. This way you won't end up with an overly oily eggplant. You may also bake it in an oven if you wish - this would be the safe way for not-oily eggplant.
- You may try different variations of spices and herbs for a walnut filling. But to get that unique Georgian taste you have to have this exact combination. I have to admin that instead of fenugreek and coriander seeds I used russian-store-bought, ready-to-go spice mix called "khmeli-sooneli". Besides fenugreek and coriander this spice has "imeretin saffron" in it which is, in fact, crushed marigold petals. I hope this "imeretin saffron" won't make a huge difference for you. Just taste your walnut filling - if you are still not happy with it, try adding cumin powder, it will deviate it from the authentic Georgian walnut filing but will surely update a taste.
- To simplify the process (and I also do not fill it's nesessary) I do not salt, wait and pat dry eggplan pieces prior to frying them as many sources recommend. But if you think it's nesessary... Happy cooking!

1 comment:

  1. Rollups look so beautiful ! Can't wait to try :)


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