Ikra (Eggplant Caviar)


Twice-cooked eggplant provides the creamy base to this luscious, smoky condiment from Mini Kabob, a restaurant in Los Angeles. Seasoned with piquant hot pepper paste, fresh cilantro, and onion, it's delicious with lavash or as a dip for the restaurant's popular Mini Kabob Potatoes.

Ikra (Eggplant Caviar)
Photo: Photo by Julia Stotz / Food Styling by Caroline K. Hwang / Prop Styling by Samantha Margherita
Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
Makes about 2 1/2 cups


  • 2 large red bell peppers (about 1 pound)

  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)

  • ¼ cup canola oil

  • 1 medium-size yellow onion (about 12 ounces), finely chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons hot pepper paste (such as Öncü), to taste

  • ¾ cup loosely packed finely chopped fresh cilantro (about 1 bunch)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste


  1. Preheat grill to high (450°F to 500°F). Place bell peppers and eggplant on oiled grates, and grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until blackened and charred all over, 15 to 20 minutes for peppers and 25 to 30 minutes for eggplant. Immediately transfer grilled peppers and eggplant to a large heatproof bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand 15 minutes.

  2. Remove and discard skins, stems, and seeds from peppers. Remove and discard peel and stem from eggplant. Process peppers and eggplant in a food processor until mixture forms a thick paste with small discernible pieces of pepper, about 15 seconds. Set aside.

  3. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not taking on color, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir in jarred hot pepper paste until well combined, about 1 minute, adding more paste for a spicier dip. Stir in pepper-eggplant mixture. Reduce heat to low; cook, uncovered, stirring often to prevent sticking, until mixture is mostly smooth, very soft, and thickened slightly, 20 to 30 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro, salt, and black pepper. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Season to taste with additional salt and black pepper.


Find Öncü hot pepper paste at Middle Eastern grocery stores or online at basilgrocery.com.

Make Ahead

Ikra can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days; let come to room temperature before serving.

Related Articles