Charmoula, a Moroccan spice blend, is best known as a tart marinade for fish. Here, its fresh taste is a perfect complement to the warm creaminess of eggplant. This dish should be prepared ahead, to give the eggplant time to absorb the charmoula.
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
- Coarse salt
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 pinch hot paprika
- 3⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Slice eggplant into 3⁄4" rounds and sprinkle lightly on both sides with salt. Place in a colander, cover with a cloth, and weigh down the slices with a heavy pot or cans for 30 minutes, until the eggplant exudes its bitter juices.
Preheat the oven to 350°. To make charmoula, whisk together garlic, paprikas, cumin, half of the cilantro and parsley, lemon juice, 2 tbsp. of the olive oil, and salt to taste in a small bowl; set aside.
Pat eggplant slices dry with paper towels and lightly brush each slice with olive oil. Spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until tender and golden, about 25–30 minutes. This will prevent eggplant from absorbing too much oil during frying. Remove eggplant from oven and set aside to cool completely.
Heat remaining olive oil in a medium skillet over high heat. Add slices one by one to hot oil and fry until crisp and brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels and transfer eggplant slices to a shallow dish.
Whisk charmoula once more and drizzle over eggplant. Sprinkle remaining cilantro and parsley on top. Let stand 1 hour, then serve at room temperature.