Make Ahead

Eggplant Fattah

April  7, 2022
1 Ratings
Photo by Hajar D.
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

The group of Middle Eastern dishes called "fattah" are a brilliant way to use up stale bread to make layered, complex, and flavorful dishes. This is my favorite category of food -- in one bite, you'll typically get crunchy bread, velvety yogurt, sometimes rice, vegetables, or meat. Because of the simplicity, you can pack in the flavor in small, impactful ways.

Eggplant Fattah is one of those dishes that steals the show even though it's served as a "side" dish. Layers of crunchy pita bread, topped with buttery fried eggplant cubes, then covered in garlicky yogurt sauce and finished with toasted nuts. Seriously, there is NOTHING to dislike about this dish.

I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I do.

Bel hana wel shefa (Arabic: enjoy it with happiness and good health)! —Hajar D.

What You'll Need
  • 2 large eggplants (pick the ones that aren't super heavy, the lighter they are, the less seeds they have)
  • 4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2-3 loaves of thin, white pita bread
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons slivered almonds or pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup cooked, seasoned ground beef (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced parsley
  1. Prepare the yogurt sauce: In a mixing bowl, smash (or use a garlic press) the garlic cloves until they form a paste. Add the yogurt, tahini, sour cream, and 1 teaspoon of salt and whisk until completely blended. Set aside, allowing the mixture to come to room temperature as you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. Prepare the eggplant: Cut the top of each eggplant off and peel wide stripes down the sides (I like to keep them striped so they can provide some structure but retain some of the taste). Cut into 1 inch slices, then cut again into 1 inch cubes. Place cut eggplant into a colander with a plate under it, sprinkle salt all over the eggplant cubes and toss them (this helps draw the water out of the eggplant for frying). Set aside.
  3. Cut the pita bread loaves into 1 inch squares.
  4. In a deep frying pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat. When very hot, gently drop in the pita bread squares in batches and fry until golden brown, stirring occasionally. When they are just golden, remove them to a large plate lined with lots of paper towels to drain. Continue frying until all the bread is finished.
  5. Next, dry batches of eggplant cubes on a kitchen towel or paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Fry the eggplant in batches in the same manner as above -- be careful as there will likely be a lot of splashing! When light-medium golden brown, remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
  6. In a small frying pan, heat up 1/2 cup of vegetable oil on low-medium heat. When heated, add the nuts and fry, stirring consistently until *just* golden. Immediately remove to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool. They will continue to cook as they cool, so be careful that they are barely golden when you remove them from the heat.
  7. All of the above steps can be prepared ahead of time and assembled the day-of. Bread can be fried and kept in a ziplock bag for a few days. Eggplant can be fried and refrigerated in a storage container, simply allow to come to room temperature. Nuts can be stored at room temperature. The yogurt sauce should be made the same day, as the garlic can become overpowering.
  8. Assemble the fattah: In a wide platter with sides, first add the fried pita bread as the base. Then, add the fried eggplant evenly over the bread. Add meat mixture, if using, but it's perfectly OK to omit this and serve as a vegetarian dish. Drizzle the yogurt mixture over the top of the eggplant. Top with toasted nuts, pomegranate seeds, and chopped parsley to garnish.
  9. VARIATION: You can toast the pita bread in the oven in lieu of frying. You can also use an air fryer for the eggplant. The results won't be exactly similar, but still a tasty, healthy substitute.

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