Eggplant

How to Cook Eggplant the Egyptian Way 

Author Avatar

Updated on April 29, 2024

Reviewed by Miral Nassar

Eggplant is one of the highly popular and essential vegetables in Egyptian cuisine. Thanks to its nutrient content and unique taste, it is used to make multiple savoury dishes. Some are main courses and others are side dishes. Some are family-dinner types and others are on-the-go ones.

There are three types of eggplant that grow in Egypt: white eggplant, purple eggplant, and black eggplant. Each one of them is used to make a different dish. For instance, white and purple eggplant, since they are elongated, are used to make one type of the famous Mahshi dish—that is stuffed vegetables. These two can also be pickled and consumed as a side dish. 

Black eggplant is larger, rounder. So it is used to make Mesa’aa, the dish we are demonstrating in this article. Raw black eggplant can also be eaten with cheese and bread for breakfast, dinner, or as a snack in between meals.

Today, we are demonstrating two different Egyptian eggplant recipes. Though they are quite easy to make, the result is just scrummy.

So let’s get into it.

1. Basic Mesa’aa

I wish there were a way to translate or at least properly spell that word. But Mesa’aa is the name of the first dish we have today. Ironically, the name itself does not give any clue about the content of the dish. On the other hand, the mere meaning of Mesa’aa would just be ‘cold’! That is quite contradictory since this eggplant dish is usually served hot or at least warm.

Mesa’aa is a typical low-budget Egyptian dish. It is a perfect, quick-to-make lunch option. It is also consumed for breakfast with beans and falafel. Though it is mainly attributed to eggplant, Mesa’aa also comprises green bell pepper.

Mesa’aa is usually consumed with Egyptian or pita bread. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 kilo of black pepper
  • 3 green bell pepper
  • 3 coloured bell pepper
  • 1 green hot chilli
  • 3 large-sized tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 cups of vegetable oil
  • 4 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 small-sized minced onion
  • 1 small-sized lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Recipe

First off, it is your choice to peel the eggplants or not. The recipe works fine with both options. If you do not like the skin, go ahead and peel it off. Then slice the eggplant. Make sure the slices are not thin but rather a little thick. You can also cut the slices into smaller triangles so as to measure one bite. Cut each of the bell peppers into four slices as well.

Add three cups of vegetable oil to a large frying pan over medium-high heat. If the eggplant quantity is too large, then it is better to use a large cooking pot instead. Once the oil is heated, place the sliced eggplant and deep fry it. Stir it a couple of times until fully cooked and golden brown. Take it out of the pot and place it on a paper towel. Then repeat the process with the pepper slices. 

Cut three large tomatoes into smaller cubes then blend them in a food mixer without adding water. The result should be a thick tomato juice.

In another frying pan, heat up one tablespoon of vegetable oil and place one small minced onion. Stir until a little transparent then add three cloves of minced garlic. Stir until golden brown. Then add the tomato juice, two tablespoons of tomato paste, one teaspoon of salt, or as desired, and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and let the sauce cook for ten minutes.

Now add the cumin and ground black pepper to the tomato sauce and place the fried eggplant and pepper slices. Stir the vegetables until well combined with the sauce. Let the stew simmer for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat.

Let the eggplant stew sit for around ten minutes then place it on a platter and serve it warm with pita bread.

Eggplant 2

2. Bechamel Mesa’aa

What we have just explained is the basic Mesa’aa recipe. It is easy, affordable, and quick to make. However, there is also an upgraded Mesa’aa recipe. This is the one usually served on Iftar tables in Ramadan and family dinners.

One main difference between the two recipes is that the second one does not use tomato sauce. Instead, it comprises some other ingredients. One of which is minced beef which has to be cooked beforehand. Bechamel Mesa’aa, you guessed it, is also baked with bechamel sauce so the result is a brand new dish.

And definitely worth trying.

Ingredients

These ingredients are enough to make one large casserole

  • 2 kilos of sliced black eggplant
  • 1/2 kilo of minced beef
  • 1 medium-sized minced onion
  • 1 large minced tomato
  • 3 large green bell pepper
  • 2 cups of full-fat milk
  • 5 tablespoons of flour
  • 3 cups of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt 
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • Mozzarella cheese, as desired

Recipe 

Like we did in the previous recipe, we need to deep fry the eggplant and pepper. In this recipe, the eggplant slices should be round, not small triangles. Besides, the eggplant should not be peeled. Once fried, put the pepper and eggplant aside.

Now let’s prepare the minced beef. Combine two tablespoons of vegetable oil with one minced onion. Stir it until a little transparent then add the minced beef. Stir the beef until well combined with the onions then let it cook until it has absorbed all the excess liquid. 

Add a teaspoon of salt and another of ground black pepper. Then add the minced tomato and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and set the beef aside.

The next step is the bechamel sauce. In a small cooking pot, combine two tablespoons of vegetable oil with one tablespoon of butter. Stir until the oil is heated and the butter has melted then add five tablespoons of flour. Stir until all the ingredients are well blended so that the flour turns into a paste. Make sure there are no lumps.

Pour two cups of full-fat milk into the pot. To avoid creating lumps in your bechamel sauce, it is recommended you add the milk gradually while stirring it with the flour paste until completely mixed. Bring the mixture to a boil while continuously stirring. Make sure the sauce does not turn out thick. Once it is cooked, turn off the heat. Add one teaspoon of salt.

Now that we have prepared all the ingredients, we get to layer them. In a large clay or oven-safe casserole, place half the amount of the fried eggplant at the bottom. Then add in a second layer of the minced beef (all of it). Add a third layer of the remaining eggplant as well as the fried pepper. Then pour the bechamel sauce. Lastly, add mozzarella cheese as desired.

Place the casserole on the medium rack of a preheated oven and let it bake for only ten minutes since all the ingredients are already cooked.

Take the casserole out of the oven and let it sit for ten minutes before serving.

(3) Pickled Eggplant 

Pickled eggplants are one indispensable, incredibly savoury side dish or appetiser that goes along with almost every other dish in Egyptian cuisine

There are more than 15 different types of eggplants grown all over the world with different colours and shapes. The eggplants grown in Egypt are long white eggplant, long black eggplant, long purple eggplant, and round black eggplant. The first three are used to make mahshi as well as the pickled eggplant which we will demonstrate in a bit. Round eggplant is used to make mesa’a as we have seen in the previous recipes.

The black eggplant used for this recipe must not be too long, just as long as your index finger.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 kilo long black eggplant
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of minced carrot
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced (or green chilli)
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of hot chilli sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Water

Recipe

Pickled eggplant is stuffed eggplant. Yet, it is completely different from mahshi because the stuffing is garlic-based and not rice. This stuffing must be prepared beforehand as it has to sit for some time before use. So let’s make it first.

In a small bowl, add two tablespoons of minced garlic, one chopped green bell pepper, two tablespoons of oil, one tablespoon of minced carrot, one teaspoon of vinegar, one tablespoon of lime juice, sugar, cumin, ground black pepper, paprika, hot chilli sauce, salt as desired, and three tablespoons of water. Whisk all the ingredients very well. The mixture should have a thick texture. Let it sit for now.

Wash the eggplant well. Peel the calyx by your hand and not with a knife. Cut each eggplant half-open vertically. Do not cut it into halves. 

Place a large frying pan on high heat and add vegetable oil so the pan is half full. Once the oil heats up, turn the heat down to medium-high. Place the eggplant in the pan and fry it for four minutes. Then lower the heat once again to medium. Stir the eggplant until it is fully cooked.

Take the eggplant out to a paper towel and let it cool down. Then slightly open the eggplant and stuff each of them with the mixture we prepared earlier. 

If you do not want to fry the eggplant, you can boil it instead. Place it in a cooking pot half full of hot water and boil it for 7-10 minutes. Take it out, let it cool down and fill it with the garlic mixture. This mixture can also be used to pickle tomatoes, by the way.

And eggplant side dish is ready for serving.

Share with our social media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *