How to make Nargisse Benkabbou’s smoky zaalouk

By Ella Walker . Published 2020-06-18
This wonderfully tasty dip is the kind you can slather on so many things.

“Zaalouk is my favourite salad–dip hybrid in the entire world. I grew up eating loaves of khobz stuffed with creamy zaalouk, small patties of kefta and sometimes a few squeezes of tomato ketchup. This is one of the most iconic Moroccan salads, and every region and every family has its own way of cooking it. Some like it with lots of tomato, while others prefer it very chunky and herby. I like my zaalouk creamy, spicy and smoky,” says food writer, Nargisse Benkabbou.

“I became familiar with smoked paprika at cookery school and I am so grateful for discovering this flamboyant spice, because it gives my zaalouk the smokiness I didn’t know it was missing. Serve it with grilled meat or fish, or as a spread in a sandwich.”


(Serves 4)

4tbsp olive oil

2 large aubergines, peeled and chopped into 3cm chunks

4 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped into 3cm chunks

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2tbsp chopped fresh coriander, plus extra leaves to garnish

1tbsp lemon juice

1/2tbsp clear honey

1tsp smoked paprika

3/4tsp salt, or more to taste

1/2tsp ground cumin

1/2tsp paprika

1/8tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste (optional)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add all the ingredients. Cover the pan and cook over a medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the base of the pan.

  2. Uncover the pan and crush the vegetables with a potato masher, then leave to cook for about five minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt if necessary.

  3. Serve warm or cold, garnished with a sprinkling of coriander, as a side, dip or spread on khobz.

Casablanca: My Moroccan Food by Nargisse Benkabbou, photography by Matt Russell is published by Mitchell Beazley, priced £20. Available now from