Zaalouk is an amazingly delicious eggplant dish out of Morocco. It’s typically used as a dip or salad, but once you taste it you’ll want to eat it with everything!
The eggplant is accompanied by tomatoes, garlic, warm spices, fresh herbs and a generous amount of olive oil. This is one of those dishes with just a few humble ingredients that somehow come together to create magic.
Now that beautiful cuisine from North Africa has gifted us our new favorite appetizer dip…
Moroccan Zaalouk Recipe
Like many traditional recipes, zaalouk, pronounced za-alouk, is one of those dishes that vary from town to town and family to family.
Some prefer a chunkier zaalouk, similar to caponata or ratatouille. In this form, it’s considered more of a salad and is eaten as a side dish.
Others mash it to a smooth and thick dip consistency like Baba Ganoush. Perfect for endless scooping with pita bread.
The cooking method can also vary. Many grill or roast the eggplant first, and some boil it. We’re going with the simplest method, putting everything into a pot and simmering it till it’s tender.
Why this Recipe Works
- Simple Ingredients: You don’t have to go to a specialty grocery store or order ingredients online to get these exotic flavors.
- Balanced Spices: The combination of smoked paprika, cumin, and a dash of cayenne creates an incredible depth of flavor, giving the dish its signature smokiness and a hint of heat.
- Fresh Herbs: The parsley and cilantro provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and spicy elements. They also add visual appeal, making the dish pop on the plate.
- Layered Cooking: Starting with a sauté and then moving to a simmer allows each ingredient to fully express itself, contributing to the overall complexity of flavors.
- Lemon Juice: This is your ace in the hole. The citrus cuts through the richness, brightening the dish and adding a tangy finish.
- Versatility: Whether you prefer it as a chunky salad or a smoother dip, the choice is yours! And you can serve it warm, cold or room temperature.
Check out our collection of favorite Eggplant Recipes!
Here is what we are using for this delicious eggplant dip. See recipe card for exact measurements.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This is what carries and melds all the wonderful aromas and tastes in the dish.
- Fresh Eggplant – Choose medium-sized eggplants with smooth, shiny skin. You want them to be firm but not too hard for optimal texture.
- Fresh Tomatoes – Fresh, ripe tomatoes are key. They should be juicy but not overly soft. If you’re in a pinch, you can use canned diced tomatoes, but nothing beats the flavor of fresh!
- Tomato Paste – This provides a concentrated tomato flavor that adds richness and body to the dish.
- Garlic Cloves – Fresh garlic is a must!
- Fresh Parsley and Fresh Cilantro – Don’t skimp on freshness here! The vibrant green herbs add color and a burst of flavor.
- Smoked Paprika – If you can’t find smoked, regular paprika can work, but it won’t have the same smoky dimension.
- Cumin – Ground cumin lends an earthy, aromatic depth, rounding out the dish’s complex flavor profile.
- Cayenne Pepper – A little goes a long way! If you’re sensitive to heat, feel free to adjust the quantity or even omit it.
- Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed is the way to go. The acidity balances out the richness and perks up all the flavors.
- Salt – To taste, of course!
How to Make Zaalouk
This method is pretty simple…
1. Simmer: Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and add peeled and chopped eggplant flesh along with chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, garlic, herbs and spices. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until everything is soft. This will take about 25-30 minutes. While it’s cooking, take a look over our collection of favorite Moroccan Dishes.
2. Mash and Reduce: Once cooked, mash the mixture to your desired consistency with a potato masher. Simmer uncovered to allow some of the liquid to cook off, until the zaalouk is cooked down to your desired consistency.
3. The Final Touches: Stir in some fresh lemon juice and taste and adjust for salt. When serving, give it a final drizzle of olive oil.
This eggplant dip can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways. Here are some of our top picks:
- It makes a delicious appetizer with warm pita bread, chips, or crostini. Or, make it part of a Mezze Platter.
- Zaalouk goes great with grilled meats or seafood, especially fish.
- This is a wonderful spread for sandwiches, pitas and wraps.
- Use it as a base for flatbreads and pizzas.
- How about as a pasta sauce? I can see this going great tossed in with some tortellini!
You can refrigerate leftover zaalouk 4-5 days in an airtight container. Make a big batch, as it goes great with so many things, and tastes even better the next day.
You can also freeze it in an airtight container. For best quality, use within a couple of months.
- Quality is Key: For best results, make sure your produce is fresh and in top notch condition, and that your olive oil is good quality (and don’t even think of not using extra virgin!)
- Low and Slow: Patience is a virtue when simmering your Zaalouk. A slow, gentle simmer helps to meld the flavors together without losing the individuality of each ingredient.
- Taste as You Go: This cannot be stressed enough! Always taste your Zaalouk at various stages of cooking to adjust spices, salt, and lemon juice as needed.
- Cookware: A heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven is ideal for even cooking and heat distribution. This helps to avoid any hot spots that might cause the ingredients to stick or burn.
So, are you ready to try these great Moroccan flavors? This easy eggplant tomato dip has become one of our new favorites. If you love it too, please leave a comment and star rating, I love to hear from you!
And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new easy recipes for you!
Zaalouk, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 medium eggplants, peeled and chopped
- 4 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 6 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- Salt, to taste
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, parsley, cilantro, smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Mix well.
- Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until eggplant and tomatoes are soft, about 25-30 minutes.
- Once cooked, mash the mixture with a potato masher (see note 1). Simmer uncovered to allow some of the liquid to cook off, until the zaalouk is cooked down to your desired consistency.
- Stir in some fresh lemon juice and taste and adjust for salt.
- Garnish with olive oil and more fresh herbs.
- Some prefer a chunkier zaalouk, used more as a cooked salad than a dip. In that case, omit the mashing step.
- You can refrigerate leftover zaalouk 4-5 days in an airtight container.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 256Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 0mgSodium 111mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 7gSugar 9gProtein 3g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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