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The world of fermentation.
The inspiration for this recipe was btingan mekhalel, a spicy, vinegary deep-fried eggplant dish sold by street vendors in Cairo. We learned our version from Abo Ahmed Sheta, who runs the café El-Gahsh. We swapped the deep-fryer for the ease of a broiler, and to create a satisfying vegetarian main, we supplemented the eggplant with chickpeas. Because broilers vary in heat output, check the eggplant for doneness after 10 minutes. For the same reason, it also may need longer than called for. The pieces should be tender and lightly charred, but not falling apart. Harissa is a North African red pepper paste seasoned with spices and other ingredients; our favorite brand is DEA, which usually is sold in a yellow tube. Serve warm or at room temperature.
1-pound eggplants, trimmed
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
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