Eggplant Caviar (“Ikra” in Russian; literal meaning: “caviar”) is another staple of Russian cuisine. That’s a wonderfully delicious vegetable spread which is perfect for late summer and early fall.
Hello everyone and happy (meteorological) start of fall! But we are not rushing the precious time -let’s not think about autumn until September, 22 or so. Agreed?
Last week I was excited to share with you a Russian recipe Zucchini Caviar. I am on the edge of my seat today as I am sharing one of my favourite Russian recipe ever, a Zucchini Caviar’s sophisticated cousin – Eggplant Caviar! Zucchini caviar is great too, but it’s kind of too homogeneous in terms of flavours and texture, even if you make it chunky. Eggplant Caviar is a different story; it is bolder and, and it has definitely got a character. As I said, a more sophisticated cousin.
Not much known about this recipe. It is believed that ‘caviar’ to have been imported from Persia (Iran) to Russia in the 17th century. According to Wikipedia, canned eggplant caviar was very much available in the stores along with zucchini caviar in the 1970s. However, while zucchini ‘ikra’ was an entirely popular product, people were not too enthusiastic about the eggplant one. This led eggplant caviar to appear in the movie, again as per the legend.
“Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future” or
When an Eggplant Caviar Was Featured in the Movie
Leonid Gaidai was one of the most successful Soviet filmmakers. He has been described as the king of Soviet comedy, and his movies are still beloved. One of these movies is Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future (Also know as Ivan Vasilievich Changes Profession.); one of the most attended movies in the Soviet Union in 1973 with more than 60 million tickets sold.
The plot? In a nutshell, thanks to a time machine accident, a modern person (from the 1970s), a superintendent of a Moskow’s apartment building, was sent back into the time of the Tzar Ivan IV “The Terrible” while the Ivan IV himself was sent into the future, to the modern Moscow. The twist? They are lookalikes but have completely different personalities, which results in funny situations of mistaken identity.
I have included the video, with English subtitles. Please spend an extra minute and watch that episode with the caviar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3xVdxDWFWU&t=4518s (Sorry – YouTube doesn’t allow me to post the link/video directly on the blog due to the region restriction. Please scroll down to 1:02:19; it will appear at ~1:03. Actually, it appears twice; the second time is ~1:18:17.)
This fact that ‘caviar’ wasn’t high in demand was sarcastically played so well, that with the movie becoming a blockbuster, the eggplant caviar immediately gained its popularity too. Since that it became a trend to serve some eggplant caviar in Soviet families, especially for holiday feasts. It is up to you either you believe this legend not, but you cannot disagree this is a scrumptious recipe!
As always, there are many ways to make this recipe (For starters, you can bake eggplant first). My main difference from most recipes you can find is the amount of oil. You know that eggplant could absorb as much oil as you would add. Trust me, 80% of recipes I have seen suggested using at least a cup of oil for almost the same proportion of veggies. One recipe suggested 500 (!) ml of oil – gosh, this is just ridiculous! What are we eating: vegetables or oil? Of course, you cannot skip the oil completely, but about 4 tablespoons would be sufficient.
How to serve Eggplant Caviar? The same idea as with zucchini one: as a dip with bread and a side dish with many things, especially starchy, from potatoes to rice. But probably my favourite one is with a spoon just straight out of a jar. Ether ways, that’s superbly delicious!
Happy Labour day and see you soon.