First we need to prepare the smoked eggplants. Chop off the crown and slice them in half. Make slits on top. Place them face down on a baking tray. Spray some cooking oil over it.
Position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiling element; preheat the broiler. Cut the eggplants in half and place them cut sides down on the baking sheet. Broil for about 10-15 minutes or until blackened and collapsed. Remove the tray with the smoked eggplants out and let it cool slightly.
You may peel the skin or let it be. If there are too many seeds, remove as much of the seedy pulp you can and then chop them roughly. Keep it aside for now.
To prepare Zaalouk
Heat oil in a pan, add minced garlic and cumin seeds. Fry for a minute.
Then add chopped tomatoes along with salt and cook till they turn soft and pulpy.
It's time to add some Moroccan spices like Za'atar seasoning and smoked paprika.
Then add chopped cilantro and the chopped eggplants. Mix, cover the pan, and cook for 12-15 minutes or till the eggplants are cooked. You can also mash the veggies using a potato masher when its nearly done. The mixture should be thick but not dry.
Once done, take it off the flame. You can serve it warm or cold. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top and garnish it with some chopped pistachios before serving.
When making smoked eggplants, do not spray olive oil on them as the boiling temperatures of olive oil are very high and will emit a lot of smoke very quickly. Regular cooking oil is the best for broiling.The eggplants can also be roasted directly on the gas or grill to get the smoky flavor. You can also add chopped zucchini, courgettes, and/or red peppers along with eggplants for more flavor. Use parsley instead of cilantro if needed.Use fresh, ripe tomatoes for the best results. They are sweeter and subtle to taste than canned tomatoes. Many traditional Zaalouk recipes don't add Za'atar seasoning. You can skip it if you don't have any. This Mediterranean vegetarian/vegan recipe can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.