Eggplant fatteh (or fattet batinjan) is an explosion of textures and flavors! Layers of crunchy pita, smoky roasted eggplant, yogurt tahini sauce, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses make the perfect vegetarian breakfast, dinner party appetizer, or weeknight dinner.
If you live in the Boston area, you likely know about a very special trio of Mediterranean and Turkish-inspired restaurants owned by Chef Ana Sortun: Oleana, Sarma, and Sofra Bakery. I myself am lucky to have been to all three!
Recently, I had dinner with a friend at Oleana, and we ordered a dish called 'fatteh'. Their vegetarian version consisted of two incredibly thin and crispy layers of pita stuffed with spiced cauliflower and topped with a thin yogurt sauce, crispy mushrooms, pine nuts, and caramelized onions.
It was so savory and so good, and the different textures of creamy yogurt, pine nuts, and crunchy pita chips were heavenly. Fatteh actually reminds me a lot of chaat, which has a lot of varying flavors and textures -- both are very addicting dishes!
Inspired by the dish at Oleana, I wanted to re-create my own version of fatteh at home, so I started doing some research on summer-inspired vegetarian fatteh recipes. Eventually, I landed on an eggplant variation from Hungry Paprikas featuring chunks of paprika-roasted eggplant, crispy pita, and garlic tahini yogurt.
The eggplant fatteh recipe I'm presenting you today is an adaptation of Amina's dish that nails all of the flavors I was looking for: salty crunchy pita, smoky paprika roasted eggplant, savory tahini garlic yogurt, and tart pomegranate molasses to bring everything together.
Note: As I did not grow up with this dish, my version cannot be truly "authentic", as I gave it my own spin. However, I conducted a lot of research so as to hopefully honor the origins of the dish. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Fatteh and Where Did It Originate?
The exact origin of fatteh is debated because its consumption spans multiple countries and regions, from Egypt to Syria to Lebanon to Palestine. As such, there are countless "fatteh"-like (or fattah) dishes with many variations.
Generally, fatteh is described as a layered Middle Eastern dish that usually includes some form of bread. The word "fatteh" originates from the Arabic term "futt Khobez", or to break bread into smaller pieces.
Traditionally, it was a great use for stale bread. Nowadays, there are many different variations of fatteh, but typically the bread is fried or toasted until golden brown. You then layer the bread with meats, vegetables, or legumes, such as ground lamb, chickpeas, eggplant, or cauliflower.
The sauce is usually made of yogurt, tahini, or tomato sauce; sometimes, cooks layer multiple sauces. Toasted pine nuts, herbs, and pomegranate seeds are also common toppings.
There are many different variations of fatteh, but typically the bread is fried or toasted. You then layer the bread with meats, vegetables, or legumes, such as ground lamb, chickpeas, eggplant, or cauliflower.
The sauce is usually made of yogurt, tahini, or tomato sauce; sometimes, cooks will combine multiple of those sauces together. Toasted pine nuts, herbs, and pomegranate seeds are also common toppings.
Here are some of the key ingredients in my variation of eggplant fatteh:
- Eggplant: I recommend small or medium-sized globe eggplants. I always peel them in "stripes" (that is, I peel about a 1-inch strip of skin off the eggplant, then I keep the 1-inch of skin next to the peeled section, and I continue alternating peeling 1-inch sections at a time).
- Smoked Paprika: A little bit of smoked paprika coats the eggplant and gives it a nice smoky flavor. You can use as much as you'd like here. Make sure to avoid using the hot smoked paprika (unless you like heat), or it may be too spicy for you.
- Pita: The thinner the pita, the better, as it will get crispier in the oven. I recommend slicing the pita in half, or in other words, opening up the pocket fully to get a thin texture. A standard pita from the grocery store, like Joseph's brand, will work well here.
- Sumac: Sumac is optional here, but it's used to coat the pita to provide a little bit of zing and tang. You can usually find it in a large grocery store like Whole Foods -- or at a specialty spice shop.
- Yogurt: I like using Greek yogurt here as it provides a bit more tanginess, but any yogurt will do. If you use plain yogurt, you will need less water to provide a drizzleable consistency.
- Pomegranate molasses: Pomegranate molasses is a thick, sweet, and tangy syrup made from pomegranate juice. It adds the necessary acidity to the dish. You can usually find it in the international section at a large supermarket. You can order it online or even make it yourself! If you still can't find it, I recommend using a balsamic glaze.
What Else Can I Do With Pomegranate Molasses?
Because of it's sweet-and-sour notes, pomegranate molasses has a lot of great uses. You can:
- Use it as the base for a salad dressing
- Mix into a marinade for meat
- Whip up a cocktail with the syrup
How to Make Eggplant Fatteh
Cube and toss eggplant with seasonings.
Roast the eggplant until tender and nicely caramelized.
Cut pita into bite-sized pieces and toss with olive oil and sumac. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown and crispy.
Make the tahini yogurt sauce, and add enough lemon juice and water to thin it out to a drizzleable consistency. Season with salt and black pepper.
Assemble! On a large serving plate, layer most of the crispy pita chips, then the eggplant, and a generous dollop of yogurt. Garnish with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses, fresh herbs, and pine nuts.
Eggplant fatteh can be served in a number of different ways. It's often eaten for breakfast, but it can also be served as an appetizer or starter -- or even a main meal if it's hefty enough (especially with the addition of a protein). If I'm entertaining, I'll serve it alongside my Mediterranean chickpea soup, crispy smashed potatoes or paneer bhurji sandwiches.
I like to serve it while the eggplant is still warm, but you can let it cool completely to serve at room temperature. You can build the layered dish in individual serving bowls, or scoop a generous portion right out of the bowl.
Leftover fatteh can be stored in an airtight container for 1 - 2 days. Note that the yogurt will likely make the pita soggier over time, so it will definitely take on a different texture.
To prevent the yogurt from curdling, I don't recommend re-heating it; instead, you can eat it straight from the fridge or let it thaw at room temperature for a bit.
It is very easy to make all of the separate components of this dish ahead of time. The tahini yogurt and eggplant can be made 1 day ahead and stored in the fridge. You can even chop up the herbs and keep them in a plastic bag or container in the fridge.
The crispy pita can be baked, cooled, and stored in an airtight container or bag at room temperature for 1 day. Just before serving, layer all of the components and enjoy!
Absolutely! This dish can easily be adapted to use another vegetable. Roasted cauliflower or squash would be nice too; just keep in mind that baking times will vary so keep an eye on the oven!
Any spiced ground meat would be delicious layered into this dish. For a vegetarian version, you can add some roasted chickpeas. Some variations even layer in hummus, as well.
For even more cozy recipes, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.Happy eating! Love, Karishma
Eggplant Fatteh Recipe
For the smoky eggplant:
For the crispy pita:
- 1 pita pocket
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- A pinch of ground sumac, optional
For the tahini yogurt sauce:
- 1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- ¼ cup water, plus more if needed
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- A handful of dill, mint, or parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
- 1 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, to taste
For the smoky eggplant:
- Set a rack in the bottom-third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425°F/218°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, toss the eggplant with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika until well-coated.1 medium eggplant, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, Salt and black pepper, ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Transfer eggplant in a single, even layer to the baking sheet.
- Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the eggplant is tender, caramelized, and golden-brown on all sides. Let cool slightly until still warm but not hot to the touch.
- Wipe the medium bowl clean and set aside.
For the crispy pita:
- While the eggplant bakes, prepare the pita. If your pita is in the form of a pocket (that is, it’s double layered), slice the pocket open to create a single layer. This ensures the pita is as thin as possible, creating a crunchier result. Cut the pita into ¾-inch squares and transfer to the medium bowl.1 pita pocket
- Toss the pita with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and a pinch of ground sumac until fully coated. Arrange evenly on a baking sheet, then bake in the oven at 425°F/218°C for about 8 to 10 minutes or until golden-brown and crunchy. Cool to room temperature.2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, Salt and black pepper, A pinch of ground sumac
For the tahini yogurt sauce:
- In a small bowl, whisk yogurt, tahini, garlic, and a squeeze of lemon juice until well-combined.Note: The mixture may begin to *seize* up and look clumpy, but once you add the water and keep stirring, it should be come smooth.Slowly pour in water, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thin enough to easily drizzle with a spoon. If you need, you can add more water to thin out the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Note: The sauce should taste nutty, creamy, and a bit tangy, so if you need to add more lemon juice, feel free to do so.1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons tahini, 1 small clove garlic, A squeeze of lemon juice, ¼ cup water, Salt and black pepper
- Just before serving, evenly layer about ¾ of the pita chips at the bottom of a plate.
- Layer the eggplant on top, then add enough yogurt tahini sauce until well-coated.
- Layer the remaining pita chips, followed by more yogurt sauce. Note: Don’t be afraid to be generous with the yogurt, so that you have a nice combination of textures between the yogurt-softened pita and crispier pita pieces on the edges or top of the dish. Even still, you will likely have extra yogurt that you can use for marinades, salad dressings, and dips.
- Garnish with herbs, pine nuts, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses to taste. Divide amongst individual bowls or plates and enjoy!A handful of dill, mint, or parsley, 1 tablespoon pine nuts, 1 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses