Shawarma is an Arabic rendering of Turkish çevirme [tʃeviɾˈme] ‘turning’, in reference to the rotisserie-cooked nature of the meat, which “turns” around an axis.
This flavor bomb typically consists of lamb, chicken, or beef, and is often served with a side of tahini, hummus, or tzatziki sauce with mint and cucumbers. Roasted on a spit, the traditional meat dish leaves not much room for a fantastical array of veggies. Yet, the beefy, meaty goodness of bright purple eggplant invites a coup d’etat.
Thus, we have eggplant shawarma.
The mere notion of far and middle eastern spice combination fascinates me. The complexity, the depth, and the aromatic perfection of the exotic spices so often consumed across the world leaves me wondering why the population so far away simply doesn’t float on cloud nine all day long as a result of the constant bouquet of flavor billowing forth from the land.
In any case, I felt as though I took an afternoon snooze with the Care Bears today as the exquisite flavors of delicate baby eggplant roasted in Turkish shawarma spice wafted through my rafters.
2 lbs. baby eggplant (Japanese will do for the delicacy factor – but NOT regular…it’s too bitter), sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground allspice
3/4 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
sea salt and black pepper
Slice the eggplant and place in a colander, seasoning with salt and allowing to sweat for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Transfer the sweated eggplant (sweating with salt allows the eggplant bulbs to release excess moisture and bitterness) to a foil lined baking dish. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with all the spices. Cover or wrap tightly in foil and roast for about 60 minutes, or until super soft.
Shazam! (or Shwarmazam! in this case).
Serve with the tang of fresh Greek yogurt and extra lemon and mint, if desired.