The historian Ivane Javakhishvili wrote that eggplant, whose homeland is India, was known in Georgia by the 12th century. In modern-day Georgia, its popularity has led to the development of local varieties, such as gardabnuli, shavgvremani, and bulgarula. It is grown in every region in the country.
A high-quality eggplant is somewhat firm, has a dark colour, and a surface that appears to sparkle or shine in the light. The locally grown varieties of eggplant are on the market from June through November, although they can be purchased canned year-round.
In the past, when there were no refrigerators to preserve food products, there was one method of preserving eggplants. In the hot days of the summer, they would be cut in the middle, hung on a line, dried in the sun, and then kept in a burlap sack. In the winter they would be soaked in water the day before use and then seasoned normally on the second day.
Products preserved in this manner retain their nutritional value well, and this method is still used in villages with large eggplant harvests today.
Eggplant with walnuts uses two main ingredients, which are, unsurprisingly, eggplant and walnut. The secret, however, is in the tiny amounts of seasoning and the methods that both housewives and professional chefs use.
This particular eggplant dish is categorized as a salad, and is a grand “achievement” of western Georgian, in particular of Imeretian, cuisine. Nowadays it is made in many different ways in all regions.
In seasonal Imeretian recipes the main seasoning is fresh, almost blooming, fragrant coriander, but the khmeli suneli spice mix must be used in a very small amount, so that the flavor is not overpowered by garlic, and so that the dish does not turn yellow from the saffron.
Wash one kilogram of eggplants, clean them off, cut off the stems, and peel the skin off the sides so that the skin remains in strips on the fruit once it has been cut into thirds.
Salt the eggplants and then wring them out one hour later, careful not to change the shape
Fry them on both sides on a hot, well-oiled pan.
Place the fried eggplant on a paper towel to absorb the oil. Season them once they have cooled.
Oil is not needed for this recipe.
Cut notches into the washed and cleaned eggplant, and place it into the oven.
As soon as it has softened a little, take it back out, peel it, and put it into a press to wring out the excess moisture.
Mash it with your hands and season it with minced walnuts, fresh coriander, finely minced onions, fenugreek, peppers, salt, dried coriander, and vinegar.
Traditionally, the fried eggplant sheets are spread with seasoning and folded in half. Some people like to make them into rolls. In the late autumn, when the harvest has finished, the small eggplants are fried whole. They can be decorated with herbs and pomegranate seeds before being served.
However, the absolute most important thing is the oiliness of walnuts which gives the food its unique taste and look before it is brought to the table.