Crispy Fried Eggplant With Homemade Harissa

Estelle  Chait
by Estelle Chait
5 slices
32 min
Golden slices of eggplant, coated in crispy panko crumbs and fried to perfection. Eat with the beautiful spicy red Harissa chili paste, and add a pop of color with fresh parsley.

This is a wonderful vegan eggplant dish to enjoy with family and friends- it is surprisingly easy and filling! Each slice of thick eggplant is creamy and crunchy, packed with a mediterranean flavour that will have you coming back for more- and more.

Growing up on the Pacific island of Kauai, eggplant was NOT a staple in my diet. In anyones diet! Then I travelled to the Middle East- and met The Eggplant. In a pita bread. Served with hummus and shwarma and French fries(called “chips” here) AND pickles. I was shocked speechless that so many foods could come together in one meal- and raised my sceptical eyebrows the first time my mother ordered one of these…things. She couldn’t seriously be planning on eating all of those random foods together in the same bite?! Well of course I had to try it, and that was that. Basically Tel Aviv and “Welcome to Israel!” in a food- and it was delicious.

We ended up moving here to the Middle East, me first and then my mother, and I have smartly adopted the ways of the land. There is just no point searching for certain things- like Heinz ketchup and marshmallows that aren’t strawberry flavoured- and it just makes sense to cook with the native spices, and eat the native food.

Eggplant has a fond place in my heart now. It is a hearty and wonderful vegetable, that can be a side or a dip or a main. Eggplant is amazing drizzled with tahini, smeared with Harissa, and whipped with date honey and lemon juice. This is our current favourite way to prepare eggplant!

Love Middle Eastern flavours? Try these:

Spicy Moroccan fish Ktzitzot

Moroccan kebabs with special spice

Moroccan salmon with Fire Roasted Peppers

I love that this eggplant dish is vegetarian and vegan, meaning I can serve it to whoever comes through my door. Instead of a dip in egg to hold the panko, we will be making a quick “glue” with cornstarch and water. This doubles as an extra coating and once fried, the result is so so so crunchy and crispy!

Tricks to the perfect fried eggplant:
Slice it thick.

You want a really hearty, meaty bite, and to get that you got to slice em thick! I get about 5 long slices from one eggplant. You can peel the eggplant first, depending on your preference, but I like the skin and we leave it on. After slicing the eggplant lengthwise- we salt it.

Sweat the eggplant.

“Sweating” is a process where- wait it is so simple- you sprinkle salt over the eggplant slices to draw out the water in the vegetable. After about 30 minutes, you will see water actually pooling around the eggplant, it’s pretty cool!

why should you bother?

#1 salting the eggplant tenderises the texture of the flesh

#2 once the eggplant “sweats”, the vegetable firms up, and it doesn’t soak up as much oil when frying. it’s the best way to get a non-greasy eggplant!

This is such an easy recipe that looks and tastes anything but(aka a winner). Make sure to whip up some of this beautiful red Harissa paste while you’re eggplants “sweat”, and you will have a meal ready in no time!

Make your own Homemade Harissa(spicy chili paste) here.

Hope you love these Crispy Fried Eggplants like we do!

Remember to leave a review in the comment section below- I love hearing what recipes are your favourites and what is the “matzav” in your kitchen

Lots of love, Estee

Crispy Fried Eggplant With Homemade Harissa
Recipe details
  • 5  slices
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 2 Minutes Total time: 32 min
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  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1 Tbs Water
  • 1/2-3/4 cup panko or breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbs homemade harissa paste (make your own-recipe linked in above post)
  • small bunch of parsley, for garnish, chopped
Cut and Salt Eggplant
You can leave the skin on the eggplant or peel it, whichever you prefer- we leave it on! Slice the eggplant lengthwise into about 1/2 inch thick slices. You should get 5 slices. Arrange them on a baking tray and sprinkle over the Tbs of salt, making sure to sprinkle on both sides of the eggplant(except the end pieces with skin- turn those over so the skin side is facing up). Leave it to sweat for an hour. After 30 minutes, you should see puddles of water begin to pool under the slices. "Sweating" the eggplant will firm up the flesh, and help it soak up less oil, giving us a less- greasy finish! Pat slices dry with a paper towel.
Dip and Fry
Mix the cornstarch with 1 Tbs water, until smooth. Arrange two plates. Add the cornstarch mixture to one and the panko crumbs to the other. Heat up a pan with oil to fry. One at a time, dip the eggplant slices into the cornstarch until thoroughly coated on both sides. Then dip the slice into the panko crumbs. Fry until golden and crispy, 1-2 minutes on each side.
To serve, arrange the crispy eggplant slices on a serving plate. You can smear a bit of Harissa onto each one, or place the Harissa into a small dipping bowl for each person to take themselves. Sprinkle over chopped parsley. Enjoy!
Estelle  Chait
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