This is not your average bowl of stewed eggplant, but is seasoned with a South African Braai spice rub. The spice rub is made homemade and adds amazing flavor to a very simple dish that you will enjoy No Doubt!
I like eggplant for many different reasons. It’s one of those vegetables that is used in just about every country so there are just a variety of ways to cook it. And both its flavor and texture profile lend themselves to even more cooking options. I grill it, roast it, but here I went for stewed eggplant partly because I wanted more of that meaty texture and quite honestly I just didn’t want to put in much effort. The great thing about eggplant is that the entire fruit is edible including the seeds and skin.
This stewed eggplant recipe called for the skin to remain on. The outer skin is tough and slightly bitter depending on age of the eggplant. Like people, the younger the less bitter. For eggplant haters it’s the bitter taste that’s often cited. But before you remove that skin keep in mind the skin (specifically for purple eggplant) contains its most valuable nutrient, a powerful antioxidant called nasunin, which is one of the flavonoid anthocyanins present in dark colored fruit like blueberries, pomegranates, and beets.
Stewed eggplant is the perfect remedy for the bitterness. Stewing also allows different flavors to come together, often taking a simple dish and elevating it to a complex and satisfying eating experience. Stewed eggplant is the key to achieving that rich taste that eggplant produces when cooked properly. Lately I’ve been experimenting with South African flavors. I’ve always been a big Peri Peri fan, but have been familiarizing myself with the less fiery flavors/spices common to the area. The other benefit of keeping the skin on is it helps during cooking to keep the texture in tact. The slow simmering process doesn’t break the eggplant down into that mushy texture of lets say a Middle Eastern baba ganoush.
A few years back during a visit to Morocco, my wife and I were on a food tour with a South African family. As we ate smoked lamb during one of the stops, we bonded and shared stories of the barbecue traditions of our respective home cultures. They spoke of Braai which is their equivalent to barbecue. It could refer to the actual grill or the social gathering where meat is grilled on the braai, as in “hey, come over to my house cause we’re having a braai.”
Obviously this is a recipe for stewed eggplant, so no grilling is involved. However, I recreated a version of the spice rub used to season meats for a typical Braai. I retained some of the instructions from my South African food tour companions and added my own tastes developed from the many Texas bbq rub recipes I’ve made over the years. The use of cloves, nutmeg, and all spice are your typical South African Braai spice rub spices, but I added that Texas element which features a lot of pepper, garlic and chili powder. Now keep in mind a rub such as this is typically used on different meats including pork, lamb, and beef. I was pleasantly surprised with how well it worked with eggplant.
Because eggplants absorb oil well, it can easily take on the other ingredients used with it. The eggplant takes on the smokey and sweet heat character of the spice rub. The fresh thyme and oregano helps to round out the flavor by adding that herbal element.
Dope beats, fresh eats. Enjoy!
Stewed Eggplant with South African Braai Spice Rub
Simple no fuss stewed eggplant dish seasoned with South African flavors.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion chopped
- 1 eggplant peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon Braai Spice Rub
Braai Spice Rub
- 1 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
Place eggplant in a bowl and sprinkle with salt to draw out excess moisture for about 30 minutes.
Rinse in a colander with cold water and pat dry.
Heat olive oil in saucepan on medium low heat.
Add eggplant, oregano, thyme and spice rub
Cover and simmer over low heat stirring frequently for 45-60 minutes.
Braai Spice Rub
Mix ingredients well in a bowl
diced tomatoes and onions work with in this dish as well if you want more variety.