Eggplant is like a sponge. Salting it dries out moisture and firms up the flesh and deep-frying it ensures it cooks evenly until creamy throughout. I assure you that this process is well worth your time.
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
- 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley with tender stems
- one clove garlic, chopped*
- two small green chiles, such as Thai; seeds removed, chopped, divided*
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
- 3/4 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
- about 2 cups Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 pound small tomatoes (about eight), cut into wedges
- 1/2 pound Parisian cucumbers (about three), sliced
- *I altered the recipe to suit my family who does not care for spicy chiles. I doubled the garlic and omitted the chile.
- Purée the cilantro, parsley, garlic, and half of the chiles and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Season Herb oil with salt and set aside.
- Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a small bowl. Season with salt and set yogurt sauce aside.
- Place cut eggplant in a colander, set in the sink, season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and let sit 30 minutes to drain, then pat dry.
- Fit a medium pot with a deep fry thermometer. Pour the vegetable oil to measure 2 inches, heat over medium heat until the thermometer registers 375° F. (note:I didn’t have a thermometer. I let it get hot then between batches let it get hot again before adding the next batch. It worked fine. If you overcrowd the pot the eggplant will not brown. I did it in three batches.)
- Working in batches and returning oil to 375°f between batches, fry eggplants turning often until golden brown and tender, about five minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon transfer the eggplants to paper towels and drain. Season with salt and let cool.
- Combine eggplants in a large bowl with tomatoes, cucumbers and remaining chiles. Drizzle with some reserve herbal oil and toss to combine. Season salad with salt. Spoon reserved yogurt sauce onto a platter. Top with salad mixture and drizzle with more herbal oil.
- The herb oil and yogurt sauce can be made one day in advance. I covered and chilled separately.