If you’re looking for a simple vegetable dish that’s easy to prepare and goes well with picnic fare and grilled meats, then look no further than Turkish-style fried eggplant and peppers. In Turkish, it’s simply called ‘kızartma’ (kuz-ART’-MAH’), meaning ‘fried.’
Surprisingly, its flavor is far from simple. The lightly-browned eggplant slices take on a wonderful, earthy flavor and the peppers give it some kick. Cold plain yogurt whipped with garlic makes the perfect topping for a side dish that’s very light despite all the oil.
In Turkish cuisine, ‘kızartma’ is a favorite at home and for picnics because it’s simple to prepare with easy-to-find, economical ingredients and it's easy to make beforehand.
You can also fry zucchini and add it to the mix.
- 4 large eggplant
- 4 large green Bell peppers or 8 to 10 Cubanelle sweet peppers
- 48 ounces of vegetable oil for frying
- 2 cups full fat plain yogurt
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves
- sea salt for garnish
- Wash the eggplants and trim off both ends. Wash the peppers and remove the stems, inner membranes and seeds. Pat them dry with paper towels.
- Using a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife, remove strips of skin from each eggplant lengthwise leaving a striped pattern. Cut the eggplant longways into thin slices no thicker than ¼ inch.
- Salt each slice on both sides then set them in a colander to sweat for about 20 minutes. This removes the bitterness. After 20 minutes, rinse off the salt and pat the slices dry with paper towels.
- If you’re using Hungarian peppers, simply cut off the end with the stem and remove the seeds with your fingers and leave them whole. If you’re using Bell peppers, cut each pepper into several long pieces about 1 inch wide each. Pat them dry with paper towels.
- Put about half the oil in a large skillet. When it’s hot enough for frying, place slices of eggplant side by side without overlapping the edges. Fry the eggplants until golden brown on one side. Using tongs, flip the slices over and brown the other side.
- When the first round of eggplant slices are done, remove them from the hot oil with the tongs, letting as much oil as possible drip back into the pan. Place them directly in a shallow serving dish.
- Repeat the same steps until all the eggplant is finished. Once all the eggplant is cooked, you can fry the peppers. You don’t want to fry both vegetables together as the oil will take on the pepper flavor which will take over the dish.
- Add your peppers or pepper slices and fry them on both sides until very tender with browned edges. Let them drip as you remove them from the pan and arrange them on top of the eggplant.
- Set the serving dish aside to cool to room temperature. In the meantime, put the plain yogurt in a mixing bowl and whisk it until smooth and creamy. Crush the garlic cloves with the side of your knife then finely chop them. Stir them into the whipped yogurt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it chill until the vegetables are ready to serve.
- Just before serving, sprinkle coarse sea salt over the platter of vegetables. You can drizzle the garlic yogurt over the top or serve it on the side.