Moroccan Zaalouk (Cooked Eggplant and Tomato Salad)

Blessing Funmilayo
Blessing Funmilayo
Hello, my name is Funmilayo, and i love to write about food, beauty, fashion and wellness. So welcome to my Food world! I share histories, discoveries, uniqueness, tips, and tricks on different dishes .Come let's take this adventure together. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do and hope to see you back here again soon.
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Zaalouk is a popular Moroccan-cooked salad of eggplants and tomatoes seasoned with paprika, cumin, garlic, and herbs. Roasting the eggplants is an optional but recommended step for adding a layer of smoky flavor.

What is Zaalouk?

Zaalouk is a warm creamy Moroccan side dish/salad. The tomato sauce is always made using fresh tomatoes (always!), olive oil, and a balanced blend of spices that makes it all come together.

The eggplants, or aubergines, are mainly used to add creaminess and texture to the sauce.

When it comes to spices, they are mainly used to brighten up the dish and make the Mediterranean flavors that we all love.

Key to zaalouk’s great flavor is the traditional Moroccan seasoning of cumin and paprika with garlic, cilantro, parsley, and olive oil. A little lemon juice can be added to lift the flavor at end of cooking.

Zaalouk Recipe

This dish can be made in a one-pot method. In this method, you peel and chop the tomatoes and eggplant, place them in a pot or deep skillet along with the rest of the ingredients and a little water, and then cook everything down to a puree-like consistency.

You can add a tiny wedge of lemon and a spoonful of tomato paste during the final reduction, but neither is a must.

There are different variations to this recipe. Not everyone aims for a mash or dip-like puree; they might prefer a chunky consistency to their cooked salad.

And not everyone uses as much tomato or as robust seasoning as my mother-in-law; less tomato and less seasoning allow the full flavor of eggplant to shine.

Others might add a roasted pepper or two, in essence making a hybrid of zaalouk and taktouka, an equally popular roasted pepper and tomato salad.

Ways to Cook Eggplant for Zaalouk

One of the major differences you’ll see in zaalouk variations is the treatment that’s given to the eggplants themselves.

Some Moroccan cooks will only partially peel the eggplants, which allows for a more colorful salad.

And instead of cooking raw eggplant directly with the tomatoes, some cooks will boil or steam the eggplants before adding them to the pot. Others will roast them.

To Roast: Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, then roast the eggplants skin-side-up under the broiler while prepping and cooking the tomatoes.

You can also insert whole peeled cloves of peeled garlic into an incision in the eggplant’s flesh so it can roast along with the eggplants. If you like roasted garlic, give it a try!

When done — the eggplant’s skin will be charred to the point of cracking or crumbling a bit and the flesh will feel very soft — you can easily scoop the flesh from the skin and add it to the tomatoes, which by then have reduced to a sauce in the pan.

You can certainly roast whole eggplants over an open fire or on a grill, or roast whole eggplants in the oven with both the bottom and top heating elements on, but these methods require more time and attention to turn the eggplants for even charring on all sides.


What are the Ingredients in Zaalouk?

In addition to eggplants and tomatoes, zaalouk typically includes garlic, cilantro, parsley, olive oil, paprika, cumin, and salt.

Cayenne pepper or chili peppers are optional. Sometimes lemon, tomato paste, onion, or peppers are added.

What is the Desired Texture of Zaalouk?

The final consistency is a matter of personal preference; anywhere from chunky to a puree-like paste or mash is fine.

Can You Make Zaalouk Without Tomatoes, Using Only Eggplant?

Yes, but including at least a little tomato is much more common. How much to use can vary quite a bit.

Some Moroccans like a redder zaalouk with one to three tomatoes per eggplant; others might use several eggplants to only one or two tomatoes.

You might also see recipes calling for a spoonful or two of tomato paste for deeper color and tomato flavor.

Can I Use Smoked Paprika to Make Zaalouk?

Smoked paprika is not a traditional Moroccan ingredient, but it can work very well in zaalouk and several other Moroccan recipes which call for paprika.

Serving Zaalouk

Zaalouk is a popular accompaniment to Moroccan main dishes of all kinds. You can garnish it with fresh cilantro, chili peppers, a little olive oil, or even harissa on the side.

Storage & Reheating

You can freeze zaalouk for two to three months. Thaw frozen zaalouk overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for a few hours.

Reheat in a pan to freshen it and reduce any excess liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.

Be Sure to Try These Other Authentic Moroccan Dishes!

Moroccan Zaalouk Recipe

Warm and creamy Moroccan Aubergine & Tomato Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings 4
Calories 65 kcal


  • 1 large aubergine cut into 16 pieces or so
  • 4 ripe Italian tomatoes you can use other types of tomatoes if you don't have Italian.
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic peeled and minced.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish : I like to serve it with some chopped cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil.


    • Bring a big pot of water to boil, lower the heat to medium-high and add your diced aubergine. Cook for 15-18 minutes, or until the aubergines have completely cooked trough. We are not looking for al dente here, they have to be very soft. Drain, and set aside.
    • Cut your tomatoes in half, lengthwise. Grab a box grater and grate your tomatoes face down until the only thing your left holding is the skin. Be careful not to hurt yourself. (See notes)
    • Heat up a sauce pan on medium heat and add olive oil. Once your olive oil is hot, add your onions and saute for 4-5 minutes or until your onions get translucent.  Then add tomato pulp & juice, tomato paste, spices, salt and pepper and garlic.
      Cook your tomato sauce for 10-12 minutes with the lid on.
    • Add your cooked aubergine into the sauce. You will notice that the texture is chunky and still a bit watery. Remove from the heat. Grab a potato masher or even a fork and mash your aubergines until you get a smooth consistency.
    • Put your sauce pan back on the stove at medium-low heat and let it simmer uncovered for another 7-10 minutes or until most of the water evaporates.
    • Remove from the heat. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly topped cilantro. Serve with a nice hunk of bread and enjoy!


    If you don’t want to grate the tomatoes, that’s totally fine. Just dice them into small cubes. However, You will have to cook them for longer.


    Calories: 65kcal
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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    Blessing Funmilayo
    Blessing Funmilayo
    Hello, my name is Funmilayo, and i love to write about food, beauty, fashion and wellness. So welcome to my Food world! I share histories, discoveries, uniqueness, tips, and tricks on different dishes .Come let's take this adventure together. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do and hope to see you back here again soon.

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