For those who are familiar with Moroccan food, zaalouk is a popular eggplant dish that’s usually served at special occasions—like weddings or religious holidays.
It’s also known as baba ghanoush — an Arabic word meaning “roasted eggplant.”
So what exactly does zaalouk taste like?
Well, it’s basically a mixture of roasted eggplants mixed in with tomatoes and garlic.
The result is a sweet and savory concoction that’s often eaten on its own but can also be used as an ingredient in other dishes.
But if you’re looking for a vegan version of this tasty Moroccan treat, then look no further than my recipe below!
What is Zaalouk?
Zaalouk is a traditional Moroccan dish made up of eggplants that have been roasted until they turn brown.
Traditionally, these eggplants would be cooked in a clay pot over a fire pit.
However, modern versions use gas burners instead.
The final product is a delicious mix of eggplants, tomatoes, and garlic that’s typically served with olives, bread, and yogurt.
Zaalouk has become so popular throughout the Middle East that it’s now considered a national dish of Morocco — especially during Ramadan when it’s traditionally consumed as a meal of sorts.
Another name for zaalouk is baba ghannoush, which means “roasted eggplant.”
Zaalouk is traditionally made with raw eggplants (which can be found frozen or canned).
However, you can use firm and ripe tomatoes instead.
If you don’t have any of these items on hand, feel free to substitute them for something else.
In fact, there are many different ingredients that could work in place of the ones listed below — just make sure to follow your favorite recipes.
1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
3 medium tomatoes, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Parsley or mint leaves
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Vegan bread or pita chips
How to Make Zaalouk
Zaalouk is a simple dish that involves roasting eggplants (you can use any kind of eggplant) and then mixing them with tomatoes, garlic, and salt.
Once everything is combined, you then have two options: You can either serve it on its own or add it to your favorite recipes.
If you’d rather make zaalouk on its own, you’ll need about 3 large eggplants and 1/4 cup olive oil.
If you want to prepare it as an addition to another dish, then you’ll need about 2 cups of diced tomatoes and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Here’s how to make zaalouk:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 4-5 slices.
Combine sliced eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil.
Spread the eggplant slices out onto a baking sheet.
Roast the eggplant until they start to turn black. This will take around 15 minutes.
Once the eggplant has turned black, remove from the oven and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes and garlic. Mix well.
Add the tomato paste to the bowl and mix well.
Heat up the remaining olive oil over medium heat.
Pour the tomato mixture into the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes.
Stir the eggplant into the tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately or let cool completely before serving.
Zaalouk Tips and Tricks
First off, I should mention that the key to making good zaalouk is to use high-quality ingredients.
That includes the eggplants, which should be firm and not too soft (I prefer them to be slightly under-ripe).
Also, make sure your tomatoes are ripe and juicy and ideally have a nice kick to them.
If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, canned ones will work just fine too.
You’ll want to roast the eggplants before adding them to the mix, so start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius) while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Once everything’s ready, follow these steps to make zaalouk:
- Cut the eggplants into chunks and place them onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.
- Don’t worry about peeling the skin off the eggplants first.
- Roasting eggplants tends to take away their natural moisture, so they won’t peel easily anyway.
- Cut up the tomatoes and add them to the baking sheet along with the garlic cloves. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Put the whole thing back into the oven and let it cook for 20 minutes.
- Afterward, remove the baking sheet from the oven and stir the eggplants around to get rid of any excess liquid.
- Then, return the eggplants to the oven and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
- Now, it’s time to add the chopped herbs.
- Chop up some cilantro, parsley, mint, and dill.
- Add it all to the pan and gently stir until combined.
- Finally, add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir again until well distributed throughout the dish.
- Serve immediately!
In Morocco, zaalouk is typically made with lamb fat (often from sheep), but I’ve found that using olive oil works just fine too.
As with most eggplant recipes, you can use any type of eggplant you’d like.
For this recipe, however, I recommend using small Japanese eggplants.
They tend to be sweeter and have less water content than American-grown varieties.
If you don’t have access to fresh tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes will do the trick.
If you’d prefer, you can always substitute an equal amount of tomato paste instead.
The best way to roast your eggplants is by baking them in the oven.
But if you want to make this recipe super quick and easy, try roasting your eggplants over an open flame on the stovetop.
Just remember not to touch the skin of the eggplant directly because it might get charred.
To serve, simply scoop out the flesh of the eggplants and mix it with the tomatoes and garlic.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.
Zaalouk Serving Suggestions
This recipe includes a few different variations that will help you get your hands on some zaalouk.
I personally enjoy making this dish by itself, but there are plenty of ways to experiment with it depending on your tastes.
Add chopped olives (black, green, or both) to the mix.
They add great flavor and texture.
Use roasted peppers instead of regular bell peppers.
If you don’t have any roasted peppers on hand, feel free to substitute plain ol’ canned ones instead.
Try using olive oil instead of vegetable oil to sauté the vegetables since it has a higher smoke point.
You’ll need more time to cook the eggplants, so you may want to use two pans instead of one.
You can serve zaalouk just like it is, or you can add a little bit of lemon juice to give it a brighter taste.
Lemon juice also adds some extra vitamin C into the mix.
- 1 bowl
- 1 oven
- 1 eggplant large, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 3 tomatoes medium, diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Parsley or mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- bread Vegan bread or pita chips
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 4-5 slices.
- Combine sliced eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil.
- Spread the eggplant slices out onto a baking sheet.
- Roast the eggplant until they start to turn black. This will take around 15 minutes.
- Once the eggplant has turned black, remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes and garlic. Mix well.
- Add the tomato paste to the bowl and mix well.
- Set aside.
- Heat up the remaining olive oil over medium heat.
- Pour the tomato mixture into the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes.
- Stir the eggplant into the tomato mixture and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately or let cool completely before serving.