Vegan eggplant rolls (badrijani nigvzit) are a Georgian delicacy and make for a perfect appetizer. Eggplant is baked till tender, then spread with a fragrant filling crushed walnuts, garlic, and spices, then garnished with fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds. They are delicious as part of a mezze spread or simply served with crackers.
Country Number 65: Georgia
Georgia has been near the top of my country bucket list for quite some time now. In truth, I know very little about the country. However I kid you not, everyone whom I have met who has visited Georgia has said it is one of the best places they have ever been, hence why the desire to visit has burnt so deeply. This is added to by the fact that not knowing much about a country makes it more appealing for me to visit. I love going to places without any pre-conceived ideas or expectations before I arrive, which is almost impossible to do with touristy hot spots.
Since researching a little more on Georgian culture and cuisine, my desire to visit has only grown stronger. You see, for the people of Georgia, food is not just something that is consumed. It is a way of life, an integral part of who they are. Georgian’s delight in hospitality, in gathering friends, family and even strangers around the dinner table. In fact, they are famous for their supras. These are traditional, extravagant feasts that can last for days, fuelled by local wine, endless plates of delicious food and toast. They are the very backbone of Georgian social culture. Sometimes, lucky tourists are invited to attend spontaneous supras. This is now officially on my travel bucketlist!
History of Georgian Cuisine
Georgian cuisine has been shaped over many years by its unique position as the midpoint on the East-West trade routes. The Georgians have been able to take the best cooking techniques and dishes from Greeks, Turks and Arabs who passed through the Silk Road and made it their own. The result is a wonderful array of flavourful dishes (and an equally wonderful culture surrounding food). Every region of Georgia has its own distinct dishes and styles of food preparation, yet each dish holds the similarities of being fragrant with spices, rich in flavour and packed with fresh local produce. The most common ingredients in Georgian food include walnuts, pomegranate, cheese, kidney beans and honey. Bread is the favoured form of carbohydrate. It comes in all sorts of forms, and is commonly filled with cheese. Speaking of cheese, there are a plethora of local cheeses that featuring in many Georgian dishes, mostly made of cow and sheep’s milk. Beef, chicken, lamb and fish are mostly eaten for protein. Thanks to the abundance of local produce, the cuisine is also very vegetarian friendly and features many delicious meat-free dishes.
Popular Georgian Vegetarian Dishes
- Khinkali– Traditional Georgian dumplings that are stuffed with different fillings and served boiled or steamed. Although most commonly filled with meat, they are also come stuffed with vegetarian fillings such as mushroom and cheese.
- Badrijani Nigvzit– Roasted eggplant strips topped with walnut paste.
- Lobio– A bean soup that is often served with mchadi (Georgian corn bread).
- Khachapuri– A gooey, cheese-stuffed bread that comes in many different variations of stuffings.
- Puri– The staple flatbread of Georgia that is baked in a circular hearth oven.
Vegetarian rating of Georgian Cuisine:
Making Vegan Eggplant Walnut Stuffed Rolls (Badrijani Nigvzit)
It was very difficult choosing which vegetarian Georgian dish to make as there were so many good ones! We ended up making a mini feast with a few of the stand outs, including clay-pot mushrooms filled with cheese (soko kecze), a typical Georgian salad with walnut dressing and these eggplant walnut-stuffed rolls (badrijani nigvzit). Eggplant has become a real go-to for vegetarian cooking and we always love discovering new ways to prepare this versatile veggie. These walnut-stuffed numbers looked so fun, and made a great centrepiece for our Georgian feast.
How to make Vegan Eggplant Walnut Stuffed Rolls (Badrijani Nigvzit)
Aside from the 30 minutes to cook the eggplant and at least 10 minutes to chill the dish before serving, these eggplant rolls come together in a few easy steps.
- For the eggplant, preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Spread your thinly sliced eggplant on 2 baking sheets and brush each side with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip eggplant to other side and bake for another 15 minutes, then set aside.
- For the walnut filling, grind coriander seeds, fenugreek seeks and bay leaves in spice grinder (or mortar and pestle). Mix in small bowl with salt and cayenne pepper (if using). Crush walnuts with mortar and pestle until a fairly fine consistency is achieved.
- Put walnuts in bowl with spice mix from above, minced garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Slowly pour in very hot water, mixing until a paste forms. Use less or more water depending on how smooth you want to consistency. Chill in fridge for a minimum of 10 minutes.
- To serve, spread walnut filling over each slice of eggplant and roll up. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, parsley and red onion and serve on their own or with crackers.
Ingredient notes for Vegan Eggplant Walnut Stuffed Rolls
- Eggplant- Use medium-sized, globe eggplants/ aubergines for this recipe. You want nice long strips of eggplant to make the rolls.
- Fenugreek seeds– You may need to go to a speciality store to find fenugreek seeds. Do make sure you grind them (as specified in the instructions) as otherwise they will be very gritty in your dish.
- Crackers– We used plain flat wheat crackers to serve with this dish but you could also toast up some flatbread and cut it into squares.
Serving suggestions for Badrijani Nigvzit
These vegan eggplant walnut stuffed rolls make a fantastic appetizer or part of a mezze spread. As mentioned, they can be served on their own or with crackers. We had them with a Georgian salad with and clay pot mushrooms (soko kecze). They would also work with any of the below Middle Eastern dishers:
Other Middle Eastern mezze to try:
- Dolma with Vegan Mince + Bulgur Wheat
- Egyptian-Style Fava Bean Falafel (Ta’meya)
- Lentil Kofte with Tomato Herb Salad (Vospov Kofte)
Vegan Eggplant Walnut Stuffed Rolls (Badrijani Nigvzit)
- 3 medium-sized eggplants (thinly sliced longways)
- Olive oil (to brush on eggplant)
- Salt & pepper (to taste)
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup very hot water
- 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- 1/4 red onion (thinly sliced)
- 3 tbsp parsley (chopped)
- Crackers (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Spread your thinly sliced eggplant on 2 baking sheets and brush each side with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, flip eggplant to other side and bake for another 15 minutes then set aside.
- First, grind coriander seeds, fenugreek seeks and bay leaves in spice grinder (or mortar and pestle). Mix in small bowl with salt and cayenne pepper (if using).
- Crush walnuts with mortar and pestle until fairly fine consistency is achieved.
- Put walnuts in bowl with spice mix from above, minced garlic cloves and 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar.
- Slowly pour in very hot water, mixing until a paste forms. Use less or more water depending on how smooth you want to consistency.
- Chill in fridge for a minimum of 10 minutes.
- Spread walnut filling over each slice of eggplant and roll up. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, parsley and red onion and serve on their own or with crackers.
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