SERVES 4 – 6
This dish is best when the eggplant is prepared over a charcoal grill, which gives it a characteristic smoky taste.
Prepare a charcoal grill or heat the oven to 450°F. Using the tip of a skewer, poke 2-inch-deep holes all over the eggplants to allow the heat to get into the whole eggplant. Grill them over the charcoal fire, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until they completely collapse. Alternatively, place them in a baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes in the oven. let them cool.
Mix 1 cup cold water, 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon salt and set the mixture aside.
When they’re cool enough to handle, lay the eggplants on a cutting board and peel off the skin, starting from the stem and working downward. Discard the skin and stems. Add the eggplant pulp to the lemon mixture and set aside for 10 minutes. (The lemon mixture helps prevent the eggplant from discoloring.)
Transfer the pulp to a strainer. Using the back of a wooden spoon, squeeze the excess liquid from the pulp. Return the eggplant pulp to the bowl, add the remaining lemon juice, the olive oil, and the garlic. Season with salt. Mash the mixture with a potato masher to make a smooth paste. Alternatively, place the eggplants in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a few times until smooth. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Garnish with parsley, olives, tomatoes, and red onion slices. Serve with pita bread.
Yogurtlu Pathcan Ezmesi: Omit the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and the olive oil used for seasoning. After you puree the eggplant, mix in 1 1/2 cups Süzme Yogurt (page 36). Chill and serve.