Ikra is known as eggplant “caviar” in Russia, one of my favorite appetizers lathered on fresh-baked bread. It is a traditional blend of eggplant, fresh tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, onions and spices slow-cooked together to savory perfection.
6 medium sized eggplants
12-15 cloves of garlic
6 large tomatoes – cut in quarters
6 bell peppers – seeded and quartered lengthwise
2 medium onions- chopped
3 medium carrots- grated
3 jalapeno pepper – seeded (leave seeds in for a spicier salsa or use more jalapenos)
Salt and pepper
1 ½ bunch parsley
Vegetable oil for frying
Peel off strips of the eggplant’s skin so that only about half of the skin is left on. Cut them into 2 inch strips about 1/2 inch thick. Toss the eggplants with one tablespoon of salt and set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare rest of the vegetables and set aside.
Prepare the salsa: (you may want to do in batches). Combine tomatoes, 6 red bell peppers, garlic, parsley and jalapeno pepper, in food processor or blender. Pulse until you get all the vegetables pureed and combined. Add sugar and vinegar, season with 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoon of salt or to taste and mix well.
By this time eggplants will release some liquid. Drain the eggplants and pat dry with paper towels. Pour about 1 inch oil into deep frying pan; heat on high heat. (to test if the oil is ready, drop little eggplant piece into the oil, and if it starts bubbling, the oil is ready for frying). Carefully place about 1/4 of the eggplants into the hot frying pan. (you will fry all the eggplants in batches).
Take out the eggplants and place them on a plate covered with pepper towel. Continue until you finish frying all the eggplants. After you finish frying, set aside.
Pour about 3/4 cup oil into a large pot of dutch oven. When the oil is hot add onions and on medium heat sauté until golden color about 3-4 minutes. Add chopped bell peppers and shredded carrots and sauté for another 5-6 minutes. Add earlier prepared salsa; mix well and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to low and simmer for about 7-9 minutes. Add fried eggplants and bring it boil again. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt if needed.
I canned most of it or you can refrigerate for up to 3-4 weeks in sealed jars.
Note: for the best taste results serve after 4-5 days. Tastes divine!!!