Great-Great Grandma Anna's Romanian Eggplant Spread (Potlagel)

November 5, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Food52 Review: Featured in: The Greatest Eggplant Recipe Comes From Romania, So Why Has No One Heard of It?.The Editors

Serves: 6
Prep time: 1 hrs 30 min
Cook time: 1 hrs


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, minced (plus more if you're into onion, like me)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced into oblivion
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch salt, plus more to taste
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  2. Place the eggplant and bell pepper on the lined sheet pan and prick both with a fork. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the skin chars and the vegetables are very soft (I use a fork to check this).
  3. When done, remove the vegetables from the oven and immediately transfer to a large, heatproof bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for about 10 minutes—this helps the skin loosen, making it easier to peel.
  4. When the skin is loose and the vegetables have cooled a bit, use your fingers to peel away the skin. You want most of it gone but it doesn’t need to be perfect.
  5. Finely chop both the eggplant and bell pepper (my mom likes her potlagel super smooth, but I like mine a little chunkier). Add to a large bowl (you can use the same one you steamed in), along with the onion, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Mix and taste. It probably needs more salt. Maybe some oil or vinegar, too?
  6. Refrigerate for at least an hour, though this is even better the next day. Taste again and adjust the seasoning again. We like to serve this with pita chips.

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Reviews (17) Questions (0)

17 Reviews

Yanni B. December 18, 2018
This is a similar to melitzanosalata a Greek appetizer. Nothing new here.
K. B. November 11, 2018
Our next dinner party will have a new appetizer! This sounds perfect! Thank you for a wonderful story - I tell all of the stories and recipes to my kids from the old country. This just made my day!
Author Comment
Emma L. November 13, 2018
Thank you so much! That means a lot to me :)
Sara November 11, 2018
I had a Romanian secretary for a while and she used to make something that sounds a lot like this. Her husband would grill the eggplant in their backyard no matter what the weather was. When I asked her for the recipe, she was always vague as if I should just know how to make it without much guidance. She always called it eggplant salad but no one else there spoke Romanian, so that's not much guidance. It's been more than 20 years since I had it last but I've never forgotten it. I'm going to try this soon.
Author Comment
Emma L. November 13, 2018
Thank you for sharing this story, Sara. Grilling the eggplant sounds delicious!
Stephanie B. November 13, 2018
Sara I'm guessing your secretary brought in salata de vinete (literally translated to salad of eggplant). My dad will fire up the grill to make December. I would counter salata de vinete, not this recipe, is the greatest eggplant recipe that comes from Romania (sorry Emma L.) but of course I have much love for my mom's recipe so I'm not being objective at all lol.
jennifer November 22, 2018
Share the recipe, please!!
sms November 11, 2018
I. too had a Romanian grandmother who made potlagel. She would char the eggplant on top of the stove while constantly rotating it over one of the burners. I avoided the mess by doing it in the oven...piercing it and roasting it in the 400 degree oven for 1/2 an hour on each side. Be sure to add the raw onions only after the eggplant has cooled or they will be bitter. I just received my Romanian citizenship through descent from my Jewish grandmother. Now I'm the Romanian grandmother preparing potlagel for my family!
RosiG November 11, 2018
Random question, but was it easy to get the citizenship? I am about to embark on attempting to do the same as my father was romanian but he has passed and inwas wondering if you have any tips? Thanks! And spery for the random question
sms November 12, 2018
Not random at all. It was a 3 1/2 year saga that was very involved and somewhat expensive. You'll need an attorney. If you feel like posting your email address I'll get in touch with you and give you more info.
Robin November 18, 2018
Hi sms, I'm interested as well! [email protected]
Anna B. November 11, 2018
Do you brush the eggplant or pepper with oil before roasting? Do they not burn?
Author Comment
Emma L. November 11, 2018
We don't brush the eggplant or pepper with oil before roasting, but I suppose you could! This is just the way we've always done it. The vegetables should get sort of charred, but that skin gets peeled away, and it imparts great flavor.
Maggie November 7, 2018
This is pretty much my Greek recipe for eggplant salad (melitzanosalata) except that I add parsley. I generally prefer broiling the eggplant and pepper instead of baking. But it's the same technique. As a personal preference I use scallions instead of onion. I would imagine there are fun variations of the recipe throughout the region.
Author Comment
Emma L. November 11, 2018
Mm scallions sound delicious!
Amy L. November 6, 2018
Loved reading our family history! And had a good laugh because I always thought it was spelled "poplagel" We also sometimes cook the eggplant and pepper on the BBQ grill outside for an even smokier flavor!
Author Comment
Emma L. November 6, 2018
Ha! Now I'm laughing about "poplagel" too :)