Crispy Fried Shawarma-Spiced Eggplant Slices

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  8 servings (about 16 slices total)
Prep Time:  1 hour Cook Time:  30 minutes

Crispy Fried Shawarma-Spiced Eggplant Slices

This is fried eggplant like you’ve never tasted before—crispy on the outside from the panko and flavorful from the Middle Eastern spices.

Ingredients

2 large firm eggplants (about 1 to 1¼ pounds each)

4 tablespoons kosher salt, divided  (see Kitchen Tips)

1 cup chickpea flour

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup of the dry spices from our Shawarma Spice Paste mix, divided

2 cups plain panko breadcrumbs

5 large egg whites

3 teaspoons water

2 cups olive oil

2 cups canola oil

Instructions

  1. Peel the eggplant and remove the stem end. Slice lengthwise, ( the long way)  into slices between ¼ and ½ inch thick. You should get 8 slices per eggplant. Place the slices on a baking rack set over  a rimmed baking sheet. Coat the eggplant with the 3 tablespoons of salt and set aside.
  2. In a shallow dish pie dish or bowl, mix the chickpea flour, flour, half of the shawarma spice mix, and the remaining 1 tablespoon salt. In a separate shallow pie dish or bowl, lightly beat the egg whites and water. Set next to the flour mixture dish. Place the panko breadcrumbs and remaining shawarma spice mix into another shallow pie dish or bowl and stir to combine. Set the panko mixture next to the egg mixture. Position the three plates near the stove.  Line a large platter with paper towels and place it on the other side of the stove.
  3. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or deep, straight-sided saucepan and set over medium heat to 365°F to 375°F (see kitchen tip).
  4. While the oil is heating, wash the eggplant well, rinsing each piece in cold water to remove the salt and any brown liquid that has exuded.
  5. Place 2 moist eggplant slices in the flour mixture and  coat evenly and completely, shaking off any excess. Dip each slice into the egg mixture and then into the panko mixture, making sure to coat completely. Carefully place the eggplant slices into the preheated oil, one at a time, without overcrowding the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom is nicely browned, turn with tongs, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the other side is browned. Remove and drain them on the paper-towel-lined platter. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, working in batches of no more than 2 pieces at a time.

Kitchen Tips

  1. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can heat the oil over medium heat and carefully drop in a small piece (about an inch square) of bread. If it turns brown all over and floats to the surface in 60 seconds, the oil is about 350 to 365°. If it  the oil is ready. If it browns sooner, the temp is higher: 20 seconds and it’s somewhere between 382 and 390°F; 40 seconds and it’s between 365° and 382°F.
  2. Eggplant can be bitter, so many cooks take preliminary steps to reduce the bitterness. One way is the soak it in milk (if you are not vegan and are making this as a dairy meal). Another way is to salt the eggplant first. Salting is done to draw the liquid out of many vegetables (think cucumbers in cucumber salad) and with eggplant, it has it added benefit of drawing out the bitter flavor compounds along with the vegetable’s natural liquids. It also renders the eggplant less likely to soak up too much oil. Peel and cut the eggplant, salt liberally and let stand in a colander set over a bowl for about ½ hour. You will see beads of “sweat” on eggplant. Rinse very well under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels, pressing gently to remove as much water as possible. Continue with your recipe.

 

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