3 medium eggplants (3 lb total)
7 tablespoon oil, olive
3 garlic cloves; minced
2 teaspoon paprika, sweet
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cayenne or
1/8 teaspoon harissa
1 pepper; freshly ground to
4 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
1 tablespoon parsley; chopped
3 lemon wedges or
3 tomato wedges
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 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. Place in a colander and salt each slice. Let stand 30 minutes, then rinse well and pat dry with paper towels.
Brush a baking sheet with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Lightly brush the eggplant slices with 2 tablespoons oil and place in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the slices are light golden brown on both sides.
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.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add the mashed eggplant and fry very slowly, turned occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates. Stir in the lemon juice and cook 1 minute longer. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, if needed.
Place the eggplant on a platter and garnish with parsley and lemon or tomato wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. This eggplant spread has a jamlike consistency. It is made all over North Africa, but this version, with garlic, cumin and lemon juice is one of the most flavorful. Serve it with warm country-style bread or pita.
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