This eggplant ikra recipe (or eggplant caviar) makes a delicious spread made from eggplants, onions, and a hint of tomato sauce. It’s a tasty side for any meal!
What Is Ikra?
Eggplant ikra is a spread made from twice-cooked eggplant, sauteéd onions, tomato sauce, and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. It is often served as an appetizer with a slice of toasted bread or as a side dish. The dish itself is so simple (with only five ingredients), but it is so delicious. Ikra has a mild but veggie-filled flavor, similar to that of cooked squash or zucchini.
Historically, ikra with eggplant was also known as “poor man’s caviar.” It is a very popular dish in Slavic households, where it is common for the cooks to be very creative at making different flavors of ikra depending on what ingredients are readily available and most affordable.
Hot tip: If you’re looking for a traditional ikra (or caviar) recipe, check out this caviar recipe made using fish roe (fish eggs).
How To Make Eggplant Spread
Making ikra is easy! All it takes is a baked eggplant, sauteéd onions, and a bit of cooking time. So — where’s that easy button?
- Bake the eggplant: Place sliced eggplant halves (flesh side down) on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 40 minutes at 350°F. Then, remove from them the oven and allow to cool completely.
- Gather all ingredients: Gather and prep all the remaining ingredients.
- Sauté the onion: Finely chop the onion and sauté in a pan with olive oil until the onions are golden brown.
- Remove the eggplant skin: Remove the skin from the eggplants and dice the flesh into small cubes.
- Combine the ingredients: Add the eggplant mixture and tomato sauce to the pan with onions. Stir, then cook on low heat for about 20 minutes. Then, season to taste with salt and black pepper. Bring to room temperature and serve!
Hot tip: If the eggplant is hard to peel, place it into a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, then try again. This traps the steam inside the bowl, making the veggie easier to peel.
Tips & Tricks
Ikra is crazy easy to make, so there aren’t many tricks to make sure it comes out right. However, here are our top three tips in case you want to change things up a little bit.
- Blend for a smoother ikra: If you prefer a smoother, more puree-like ikra, blend the cooked eggplant and sauteéd onions in a blender or food processor. Once smooth, add them back to the pan and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add in more veggies: Feel free to add in more steamed/cooked vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, red bell peppers, and garlic. For an herby addition, try a tablespoon of finely minced dill or parsley! With each addition, the flavor does change, so make sure you like the combinations you’re making!
- Substitute tomato sauce with paste: If you’re out of tomato sauce, use tomato paste instead. Tomato paste tends to have a stronger flavor, so plan to use a little less paste than sauce.
- Broil instead of sauté: If you like a more charred/smoky flavor, broil the eggplant and onions in the oven. However, be sure to still sauté the combined mixture at the end for 20 minutes.
Ways To Serve Ikra
Ikra is most often served warm or cold on a fresh slice of sourdough bread. Or, serve it in a bowl as a side on a cheese/charcuterie board alongside tortilla chips or pita chips. It is also delicious over braised beef short ribs or with pork roast.
Storing Eggplant Ikra Short Term
For best results, store the eggplant spread up to two weeks in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator. Avoid placing the spread in the freezer as the texture changes after thawing.
Is eggplant ikra healthy?
Eggplant ikra is full of eggplants, onions, and other veggies that are full of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients such as potassium, vitamin c, and more. Plus — eggplant is known as a superfood as it is considered high-fiber but low-calorie.
What’s the difference between baba ganoush and ikra?
Baba ganoush is an eggplant based spread made with additional ingredients like tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and more. Ikra is also eggplant based, but it is most often made with only onions, tomato sauce/paste, peppers, and/or carrots.
Are aubergines and eggplants the same thing?
Yes, aubergines and eggplants are the same. English speakers tend to use the word “aubergine”, while those from North America most often use the word “eggplant.”
Is an eggplant a vegetable or a fruit?
Eggplants are actually considered a fruit since they grow from a flowering plant and have seeds. However, due to their flavor, they are often classified as a veggie.
How do you pronounce “ikra”?
Ikra is pronounced “ee-krah”.
Other Spreads & Dips To Try
- Spinach Artichoke Dip — Cheesy hot veggie dip
- Garlic Avocado Spread — 5-minute creamy avocado dip
- Vegetable Zucchini Spread Recipe — Slavic-style veggie dip
- Tzatziki Sauce — Greek yogurt & cucumber dip
- Slice eggplants into halves and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes at 350°F. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely.
- Finely chop onions. Sauté in an oiled skillet until they're golden brown.
- Remove skin from the eggplant and chop into tiny cubes.
- Add eggplant and tomato sauce to the pan with sauteéd onions. Cook on very low heat for about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve ikra as an appetizer spread, or as a side dish.