Maakouda, or roasted eggplant “frittata” (Tunisia)

Tunisia is a relatively small Arab country in North Africa – much smaller than its neighbours Libya and Algeria, which are quite huge. Its history dates back to about 4000 BCE. Later it became a part of the Roman empire. Soon after the birth of Islam the region was conquered by Arab Muslims who built the Great Mosque of Kairouan, which has the oldest surviving minareet in the world. Later Tunisia or parts of it were ruled by the Ottoman Empire, Spain and later French. It gained independence in 1956 and had a revolution between 2010-2011 which largely inspired most of the Arab spring.

Environmentally Tunisia is very diverse, featuring the Atlas mountains, a part of the Sahara desert, but also very good farming land. Economically Tunisia is doing rather well and also has some oil and gas. Life expectancy is well over 70 years. While Islam is the official state religion, the culture is quite secular and religious freedom prevails. Hijabs and “Islamic” beards are frowned upon. Football is by far the most popular sport, though in international championships the Tunisian team has never got very far.

Thanks to its location and influences from a variety of cultures. Food tends to be spicy and rich in vegetables. Pork is not eaten because of Islam, but lamb is very popular. Tuna and eggs are eaten a lot, too. Veggies are often served stuffed and grilled. Quite a few nuts are used, from hazelnuts to pine nuts. Chickpeas are used in many kinds of dishes. Couscous is the staple starch, served richly spiced.

The most famous part of Tunisian cuisine is probably harissa, a fiery sauce made with chili and spices. Numerous different spices and many herbs are used, but also other strongly flavoured ingredients like olives, shallots, capers, sundried tomatoes, lemon, orange and dried fruit. Olive oil and honey also add their flavor. Besides rose water and orange blossom water, jasmine and geranium water are used to give dishes a floral aroma.

Maakouda is a Tunisian baked omelet. I found several different recipes, which all contained eggplant (usually baked, but in one it was fried), onion and lots of fresh parsley. Some also had bell pepper, one had yoghurt, one had harissa, most had cinnamon and garlic, some had cumin and coriander seed and one even had caraway. I based my vegan maakouda adaptation mostly on those at RecipeBridge, A Sweet Life and New York Times. The black salt and nutritional yeast are to create an “eggy” taste, but they can be left out.

As far as tofu frittatas go, this was a pretty good dish, though not my favorite.

Maakouda

Maakouda

1 eggplant
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red or orange bell pepper
oil for frying
0.8 lbs/400 g firm tofu + 1/3 cup/80 ml soy milk
1 tbsp corn starch or other similar starch
1 tsp black salt (or normal salt)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more)
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp sugar (or equivalent amount of sweetener)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Cut the eggplant in half. Place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 40-45 minutes, until very soft. Let cool a bit, scrape the flesh and cut it into small cubes. Don’t worry if it gets mushy.

Fry the onion, garlic and bell pepper for a few minutes on a frying pan, until soft. Add the eggplant cubes and fry for 1 minute. Puree all the other ingredients except for the vegetables and the parsley in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add the fried vegetables and the parsley to the tofu mixture and mix well.

Pour into oiled ramekins or a larger baking dish and bake until set. I made half of the recipe (as I didn’t have more tofu or eggplant) and it fukked three ramekins, which I baked at 190C for 45 minutes. The full recipe would feed 4-6 people as a main dish or breakfast. However, if you are going to bake this in one larger dish, I’m not sure how long it would take. Probably an hour?

Traditionally this dish is served in room temperature, but I think most people would prefer it hot.

2 Responses to “Maakouda, or roasted eggplant “frittata” (Tunisia)”

  1. 1

    Kuulostaapa hyvältä! Itse asiassa melkein kaikki,missä on munakoisoa,on tosi hyvää;D

  2. 2

    Joo, olen kuullut sellaista huhua, että tykkäät munakoisosta. ;->


Want to Leave a Reply?

You must be logged in to post a comment.