Caviar d’Aubergines, or in simple English, Grilled Eggplant, is a rather uncomplicated and inexpensive dish. Nonetheless, it has received this rather bombastic title as a result of its delicate flavor and its elegant appearance. When properly prepared, the white seeds glow with a luminescence that is reminiscent of caviar, and the smoky flavor brings to mind a variety of rather pricey delicacies.
The eggplant belong to a very special group of vegetables called the nightshades. Nightshades vegetables belong to a group of plants that flower at night. Nightshade plants are primarily toxic, the exceptions being the potato, tomato, eggplant, and pepper (other than the black pepper).
The nightshades as a group, especially the potato and the tomato, are craved by Western society. Perhaps the reason why the fast paced Westerner enjoys these foods so much is that they induce a feeling or relaxation and expansion (think of the term, “couch potato”, eating potatoes, perhaps even one coated in tomatoes, makes you want to sit on the couch and relax).
Additionally, nightshade vegetables are also useful in providing a balance for a meat based diet as they help to clear the stagnancy of eating excess animal products. While it is quite enjoyable to feel relaxed and expansive, this action can exacerbate certain health conditions. It is recommended to avoid nightshade vegetables in instances of swelling or pain in the joints, muscles, tendons, or nerves.
Such conditions as arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, neuritis, and sciatica are negatively affected by nightshades. People who suffer from skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis would also benefit from abstaining from nightshades.
To reflect upon their good nature, the nightshades as a group, and the eggplant specifically, possess many healing powers as well. The eggplant is beneficial in clearing stagnant blood and it has a homostatic action which helps to reduce bleeding. A pack of raw eggplant is useful in case of a scorpion bite, and grilled eggplant (see the recipe below) has the miraculous ability to heal bleeding hemorrhoids.
A word of caution however, pregnant women are advised not to over indulge in eggplant as they can cause miscarriage.
Use a high flame to grill the eggplant. The grilling can be done on an outdoor grill, a stove top, or in an oven. If it is done on an open flame, the smoke will enhance the flavor of the eggplant. As the skin of the eggplant blackens and cracks open, turn the eggplant so as to grill it on all sides. To know when the eggplant is ready push down to feel if it is fully soft inside.
Remove from the flame, cut down the center and scoop out the insides. Place the grilled eggplant meat into a bowl and immediately pour on the lemon juice. Add the pressed garlic and salt.
Alternatives: For a delicious creamy spread, add three tablespoons of tehina.
Serve as a first course, accompanied by bread. Kept refrigerated this salad can be kept for up to a week.
Note: To retain the white color of the eggplant, the lemon juice needs to be applied while the eggplant is still hot, freshly removed from the flame.