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Arts & Life

Cooking with the Papikians: Baku Eggplant


By Linda Sher

Kansas City, MO – Igor and Karina Papikian are both of Armenian and Russian descent. When they were forced to leave their home in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in 1990 they weren't accepted in either Armenia or Russia. So, they decided to come to the United States. They ended up in Kansas City a place they'd only read about in a Theodore Dreiser novel. Linda Sher spent an evening with the Papikians and their daughter Ana, to learn about their journey, their life and their cooking.

Karina Papikian's recipe for Baku eggplant, along with other international recipes can be found in Cooking With an Accent: An Immigration Lawyer's Cookbook by Mira Mdivani.

Baku Eggplant

2 medium-sized eggplants
2 large tomatoes sliced
1 yellow onion sliced
1 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch cilantro

Cut the ends off of the eggplants and place in salted water for 15 minutes to remove natural bitterness of the eggplant. Squeeze out water. Slice eggplant into 1/8-thick slices. Heat skillet and add olive oil. Fry eggplant on both sides until browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; set aside. Pan-fry tomatoes, onions and green peppers with olive oil. Layer the salad; do not forget a little salt and pepper for each layer. Start with eggplant, then add onion, tomatoes, green peppers and top again with more onion. Chop cilantro and mince garlic, then sprinkle over vegetables. This salad can be served warmed or chilled.

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