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Algerian Eggplant Jam

This Algerian recipe is an eggplant spread that has a jam-like consistency. It is made all over North Africa, but this version, with garlic, cumin and lemon juice is one of the most flavorful. Play around with the spices to give the recipe a different twist, and make an Algerian bruschetta spreading it on country style bread and topping it with crumbled traditional goat's cheese.

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Ingredients:

3 medium-sized eggplants
7 tbsp olive oil (or as much as you need)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Procedure:

Preheat the oven to 375°F

1. Cut the stems off the eggplants. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, peel the skin in 1/2 inch wide strips vertically down each eggplant so you get a striped effect. Slice each eggplant horizontally into 1/2 inch slices.

2. Place eggplants in a colander and salt each slice. Let stand 30 minutes, then rinse well and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Brush a baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Lightly brush the eggplant slices with oil and place in a single layer on the baking sheet.

4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the slices are light golden brown on both sides.

5. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and, using a fork or potato masher, mash with the garlic, paprika, cumin, water and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add the mashed eggplant and fry very slowly, turning occasionally and until the moisture evaporates. Stir in the lemon juice and cook 1 minute longer.

7. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, if needed.

8. Place the eggplant on a platter and garnish with parsley and lemon or tomato wedges with pita wedges or country bread. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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