Photo by Haaps & Barley

The sound of the coffee machine sputtering in the morning takes me back to weekends from my childhood, when my parents would sit and chat in the dining room before my sister and I made our way to breakfast, their muffled voices and clinking spoons clearing the fog from my head.

The smell of carne asada transports me to late nights with friends in college, which is a habit that still persists today.

Don’t even get me started on the poetry of freshly steamed rice, smoky kalua pig and a tub of fresh ahi poke; I’ve shared many a mixed plate with local and visiting friends and family over the years as a youth on Kaua’i, and now as a returning visitor.

Five years ago, I was at a food conference in Santa Monica when I first had my taste of the eggplant and yogurt combo (and an introduction to cold brewed coffee). It was the first time I had yogurt outside of breakfast time, and as a main ingredient for a savory dish. I liked it a lot. 

Food brings people together; its language is universal – so long as it’s good 😉

Jill (from Haaps & Barley and author of all of these Curious Palate recipes lately) shares a similar sentiment, and her recipe for an eggplant and yogurt recipe below. I’ll be making mine with Japanese eggplant, my variety of choice:


2 eggplants, cut lengthwise into quarters

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup greek yogurt

1/3 cup tahini

Zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 hot chili, thinly sliced

2 cups freekah, cooked

2 scallions (pale green and white parts only), chopped

Preheat oven to 400°F.

On a baking sheet, toss eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Roast until eggplant is tender and slightly charred, about 40 minutes.

On another baking sheet, toss chickpeas with 1 tablespoon olive oil, cumin, coriander, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Roast until golden and slightly crispy, 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt, tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, and chili. Add freekah and scallions; toss to combine.

To serve, plate freekah over a large platter. Top with eggplant slices. Drizzle with yogurt sauce and sprinkle with spiced chickpeas.

Serves 4-6

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For more from Haaps & Barley, check out Jill’s blog here.