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Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Dip with Black ‘Bugs’ Recipe

Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Dip with Black ‘Bugs’ in a serving dish

This smoky, flavourful dip, flecked with black seeds and chunks of orange peppers, will fill your home with aromas from the Middle East, while simultaneously keeping in touch with Halloween.

Prep. Time 10 - 15 mins
Cooking Time 45 mins
Yields 3.5 cups


1 large eggplant, (1-1/2 lbs/750 g), pricked all over with a fork
1 sweet orange pepper
1 quartered onion
4 large cloves garlic
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) nigella, black sesame or poppy seeds, divided
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt
2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (250 mL) thick plain yogurt , (Greek or thick Balkan style)
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) pomegranate molasses
Flatbread, toasted pita or sliced naan to serve


Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Place eggplant directly on oven rack. Place whole pepper, onion and garlic cloves in a small roasting pan and toss olive oil. Roast vegetables for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, until vegetables are charred and eggplant is deflated (remove garlic and onions as they are roasted; they will be ready before pepper). Remove eggplant from oven with tongs, place in roasting pan with other vegetables, and allow to cool.

While vegetables are cooling, in a small, dry skillet, combine cumin, coriander and 1 tsp (5 mL) of nigella seeds. Cook over medium heat, shaking pan often for 2 minutes until fragrant and seeds begin to pop. Transfer to a mortar and pestle (alternatively use a spice grinder or place in a bowl and crush with the back of a heavy spoon) and grind until seeds are crushed, but not perfectly smooth.

When vegetables are cool enough to handle, cut eggplant and scoop out flesh onto a cutting board. Peel, core and de-seed pepper and place flesh on board with onion and garlic cloves. Roughly chop everything together and scoop into a serving bowl. Stir in toasted seeds, salt, lemon juice, yogurt and pomegranate molasses. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Top with remaining nigella seeds arranging as ‘bugs’.


Nigella seeds are available at Indian or specialty grocery stores. Black sesame seeds, or poppy seeds can be substituted.

Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern or specialty grocery stores. It is a slightly sweet, thick, tart syrup. If it isn’t available, substitute equal parts liquid honey and balsamic vinegar.

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