Grilled Eggplant with Lebneh

Perfect for a summer night grill meal. Beautiful presentation, and a delightful combination of Middle Eastern flavors.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hours 10 minutes
6 servings


• 1/2 cup lebneh* (thick Middle Eastern–style yogurt) or 1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
• 1 garlic clove
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 to 4 tablespoons water
• 2 lb eggplant (2 medium), cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices
• 1/2 cup olive oil

Garnish: fresh mint leaves


If using whole-milk plain yogurt, drain in a paper-towel-lined sieve set over a bowl, covered and chilled, 8 to 12 hours.

Sprinkle salt on eggplant slices and let them rest for 30 to 60 minutes in a colander until they begin to give up water. Rinse them well, pat them dry.

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with a pinch of salt, then transfer to a bowl. Whisk in lebneh or drained yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and enough water to make mixture resemble well-stirred sour cream.

Prepare grill for cooking. If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on moderately high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate.

Brush eggplant slices generously with oil on both sides and sprinkle with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Grill slices on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over occasionally, until eggplant is tender, 12 to 15 minutes total. Transfer as cooked to a platter, arranging slices in 1 layer. Put a spoonful of yogurt mixture on each eggplant slice and top with a mint leaf.

Cooks' note

If you aren't able to grill outdoors, eggplant can be cooked in a hot well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat, turning over occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes total, or broiled in a shallow baking pan (4 to 6 inches from heat), turning over occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes total.

* Available at Middle Eastern this way allowed the cheese to stay bright white. The salt and pepper showed up on it. The herbs remained green and fluffy. The grill marks on the eggplant were distinct.

You can make a pretty good lebnah by bringing 1 gal of whole milk just to the boil.Remove from heat and stir in 1 large cooking spoon of plain yogurt. Put the lid on the pot, wrap in a blanket and let set undisturbed for 24 hours. Place the contents into a cheesecloth bag, hang it up and let water drip out until contents of bag becomes consistency of softened cream cheese. Remove and enjoy.