Mirza Ghasemi is a dish from Gilan Province in the Caspian Sea area of Iran. Gilan is in the North of Iran close to the stunning Jangal (forest) Mazandaran with moss growth covering the tree trunks and huge ferns covering the forest floor. The Caspian Sea is calm, beautiful and best of all the shoreline has soft sandy beaches with warm water in summer months. I will always remember the endless days of carefree childhood play in the water under a very hot sun and only coming indoors briefly to grab a bite to eat and then ending the fun filled day with an evening stroll on the beach and listening to the sound of waves.
Mirza Ghasemi is a delicious vegetarian Shomali (from North) meal. To make this simple smoky flavored dish the eggplants are grilled over hot coals or under the broiler element in the oven until the skin is charred. Then the skin is peeled and the flesh is cooked with fresh ripe tomatoes and eggs.
I will show you two methods for charring the eggplants: On the outdoor grill method the eggplants may be skewered and grilled or placed directly on the grate and grilled until the skin is charred. On the broiler method the eggplants are broiled very close to the heating element for a few minutes on each side then held over the fire from the gas burner on the stovetop for only a couple of minutes, just enough to char the skin. I learned this brilliant broiler/stovetop method from my friend Majid who I enjoyed a cooking session with when he and his lovely wife were visiting a while back. The stovetop method is perfect for winter months when it is too cold to fire up the outdoor grill. You just will have to take my word for it until you try it for yourself, but the couple of minutes on the gas burner does the trick to give the eggplants that smoky flavor we all love in Mirza Ghasemi.
In most recipes the eggs are mixed into Mirza Ghasemi but I have made a variation to this beloved recipe. After the eggplants and tomatoes are cooked, I crack the eggs directly on top. Next, I mix the whites into the sauce but leave the yolks whole and cover the skillet and quickly poach them for this unique presentation. Let me tell you the yolks taste awesome like this and this way every one gets a perfectly sunny golden yolk on their plate to enjoy!
So here is the grill method: The skewered eggplants are grilled over hot coals until the skin is all charred and kind of starts lifting off the flesh
And Here is the broiler/stovetop method; genius right? The eggplants are broiled then the skin is charred over the gas burner.
Then there is the question whether to dice the tomatoes, or peel the skin first and then dice? I have just diced the tomatoes for this recipe. On the other hand my friend Majid likes to peel the tomatoes first by scoring an X on the tomatoes with a sharp knife, then covering them with boiling hot water for 2 minutes, which makes the skin come right off, then dice them. You decide which method you want to use. I personally leave the skin on any vegetable if I possibly can for all the wonderful nutritional value, but I know some people prefer to peel their tomatoes.
The charred eggplants are peeled and chopped roughly
The eggplants and tomatoes are simmered with garlic, then the eggs are cracked right on top and poached
Serve this wonderful Shomali (form the north or Iran), vegetarian meal with Sangak or Lavash, both of which are Persian flat breads that are usually sold in the Middle Eastern or Persian markets, & Enjoy!
- 7 medium Italian eggplants, unpeeled
- ⅛ tsp kosher salt
- 3 ounces butter, divided
- 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 5 ripe Roma tomatoes
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 eggs, to be cracked directly on the cooked eggplant/tomato sauce
- Prepare your outdoor grill to high heat. Skewer the eggplants and grill them over hot coals or gas grill for 7-8 minutes on each side, or until the skin is charred all over and the eggplants can easily be pierced with a fork. (please see the alternative broiler/stovetop method in the pictured instructions)
- Carefully pull the eggplants off the skewers and cool just until you can handle them without burning your fingers. Take the stems off and peel and discard the skins. You don’t have to be very meticulous about peeling the skin, some leftover specs of charred skin is fine and adds extra smoky flavor to Mirza Ghasemi. Sprinkle the peeled eggplants with ⅛ tsp kosher salt and roughly chop them. Set aside.
- Use a sharp knife to slice the tomatoes very thin, then dice them very small (please see the alternative method for peeled tomatoes in the pictured instructions). Set aside.
- Heat 2 ounces of butter in a non-stick 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes salt and pepper and increase the heat to medium high and saute for 3 minutes. Stir a few times.
- Add the chopped eggplants to the skillet, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir a few times.
- Stir the eggplants, make 4 shallow wells on the surface and crack the eggs one at a time in each well. Use a fork to mix the egg whites into the eggplant mixture, leaving the yolks intact. Sprinkle the yolks with extra freshly cracked black pepper. increase the heat to medium low, cover the skillet and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the whites are cooked. The yolks should be soft poached and golden.
- Serve with fresh herbs or salad and toasted Sangak or pita bread.