Mesa'ah is Egyptian fried eggplant in a garlic spicy tomato sauce, and it's a very common dish in Egypt. It's eaten with fresh pita bread, and it's absolutely delicious. This recipe uses simple ingredients and comes together in about 30 minutes.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Eggplant: The best eggplant to use for this recipe is purple eggplant like the ones below.
- Garlic: Always use the fresh stuff!
- Tomatoes: You will need beefsteak, tomatoes on the vine, or Roma tomatoes.
- Vinegar: This recipe has just a slight amount of distilled white vinegar.
- Olive oil: Alternatively you can use a high smoke point oil like canola oil or vegetable. I prefer to use olive oil because I like how it tastes. Olive oil has a lower smoke point, so if using olive oil be mindful of the heat on the pan.
- Spicy pepper: If you like some heat, you can add a few small spicy peppers.
- Salt and pepper
You will also need:
- Chef's knife and cutting board
- Wide nonstick frying pan
Tips For Making Mesa'ah
- Fry the eggplant first. Prior to making the garlic tomato sauce, fry the eggplant and set it aside.
- Cook the tomato sauce for at least 15 minutes. The sauce changes flavor as it cooks over the stovetop. At a minimum, I cook the tomato sauce for 15 minutes. Sometimes, I cook the sauce a little bit longer.
- Add a fresh pepper for a little bit of spice. Alternatively, you can add some crushed red pepper as well.
- Fry the garlic before adding the strained tomatoes.
- Once the tomato sauce is finished, add the fried garlic.
What is the Healthiest Way to Cook Eggplant?
You can steam eggplant or roast eggplant without oil. My American grandfather always said, "No fat, no taste" when we were grocery shopping as he added Little Debbie snacks to the grocery cart. My opinion is, let's use fat but in a smart way.
So I pan fry this eggplant with a little bit of EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil). I like cooking it this way because I can control how much oil is being used for the dish. If you don't measure out the oil, you will be surprised at how much oil actually gets soaked into the eggplant.
You want just enough olive oil to help cook and flavor the eggplant, but not too much where you are biting into a greasy eggplant. That's why it's important to use a nonstick frying pan for this recipe.
Another way to control the oil absorption into the eggplant is by pan roasting the eggplant in the oven. I use a pastry brush, and I brush the olive oil on both sides of the eggplant before putting it into the oven. If you roast the eggplant, you need to flip the eggplant over halfway through the cooking process.
Can You Eat the Skin of Purple Eggplant?
Yes! The outer skin of purple eggplant can be eaten, although it may have a chewy and tough texture.
Want Another Recipe for Fried Eggplant?
When my husband makes mesa'ah, he usually makes this fried eggplant dish with garlic as well. Basically, you are killing two birds with one stone by frying a little bit extra eggplant.
To make this garlic fried eggplant, just mash 4 garlic cloves with ½ tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of salt. Mash 1 tbsp of fresh green pepper (it can be spicy pepper or bell pepper) into the mashed garlic paste. And spread the garlicky love over the fried eggplant pieces.
We like to eat this fried eggplant with our baked falafel sandwiches. Another way to this eggplant is just with some fresh pita bread.