Melty Pan-Fried Eggplant with Yogurt, Mint, and Sumac

Amped up with aromatic spices, this vegetable dish is a weeknight wonder.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    45 minutes


By Fatima Khawaja

Published on October 6, 2022

Welcome to SAVEUR’s column on making the most of local produce according to chef and recipe developer Fatima Khawaja. This is where you’ll find creative, unfussy meal ideas plus plenty of cooking advice—like what to do with that bumper crop of zucchini or how to store delicate heirloom tomatoes. Follow along, and you’ll learn how to turn the season’s bounty into easy plant-based meals that’ll be on the table in under an hour.

Confession time: I’ve never really cared for eggplant, unless it was breaded and deep fried, but recently I found another way to love the berry (yes, it’s a fruit). I salt it, coat it in spices, then shallow-fry it until soft, before topping the whole thing off with a dollop of yogurt and scattered mint leaves and sumac. 

Large globe eggplants can be bitter, a problem easily mitigated by peeling the skin, salting the flesh ahead of time, or both. Smaller globes, dainty “fairy tail” varieties, and slender Japanese eggplants, if you can find them, are sweeter and don’t require any such prepwork. 

All eggplant types take wonderfully to this recipe and countless others from our archive including this vegetarian gratin that will transport you to France. But don’t miss out on the classic combination of eggplant and yogurt in my flavor-packed weeknight favorite.


  • 1 large globe eggplant (1½ lbs.), cut into ½-in. rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped (¾ cup)
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • Chopped mint leaves, ground sumac, and garam masala, for garnish


Step 1

Fit a wire rack into a large rimmed baking sheet. Season the eggplant slices generously on both sides with salt and arrange in an even layer on the rack. Set aside and allow the eggplant to drain, about 15 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, to a large skillet set over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of the oil. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and softened slightly, 7–10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. (Wipe the skillet clean and return it to the stove.) Whisk the yogurt, and the lemon juice and zest into the onion mixture. If necessary, stir in 2–3 tablespoons of water to loosen the sauce to a spoonable consistency. Season with salt to taste, and set aside.

Step 3

In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander, and turmeric. Using paper towels, pat the eggplant dry, then sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices evenly with the spice mixture. (Move the rack and baking sheet near the stove.)

Step 4

To the empty skillet, add vegetable oil to a depth of ½ inch and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is hot and shimmering, fry the eggplant in batches, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, 6–8 minutes. Transfer the fried slices to the rack and keep warm while you continue cooking the rest of the eggplant.

Step 5

Spread the reserved yogurt mixture over a large platter. Fan the eggplant slices over the yogurt, then sprinkle with mint, sumac, and garam masala to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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