Rediscover the humble (or is it mighty?) eggplant at this local restaurant

Dish of the Week - Rumi's Kitchen

The mirza ghasemi at Rumi’s Kitchen in Sandy Springs. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

Dish of the Week: Mirza Ghasemi at Rumi’s Kitchen

In his best-selling, award-winning cookbook “Plenty,” Yotam Ottolenghi dedicates an entire chapter to the “Mighty Eggplant.” In his follow-up book, “Jerusalem,” he refers to the aubergine as “humble.”

Which is it? The beauty of the eggplant is that it’s both: humble in its acceptance of a wide range of flavors and mighty in its ability to fill you up.

Rumi’s Kitchen serves a dish that brings out the best of the eggplant’s dueling characteristics. Mirza Ghasemi is a dip of smoky grilled eggplant mixed with a tart, flavorful tomato sauce. Under-promised on the menu as “smoked eggplant, tomato, garlic,” the restaurant over delivers.

As a dip, the mirza ghasemi needs a vehicle – in this case, it is warm, freshly-baked pita bread. Then you might want a few extras, and chef Ali Mesghali pulls no punches on those: you’ll get an extra plate of olives, fresh radishes, tarragon, mint, spinach, walnuts and a block of soft, almost velvety feta. Yet all these components are firmly stuck in orbit around the eggplant dip, still warm and wonderfully balanced with smoke, salt, spice and a bit of bright, tart tomato.

The mirza ghasemi can be slathered on top of the pita bread, or the pita sections can be pulled apart and stuffed with whatever components look good to you. It’s a fun dish to eat; you smile as you build your pita, and you smile again as you taste it. There’s no time to debate the merits of the eggplant as the mirza ghasemi disappears all too quickly from your table – all that matters is that it’s delicious.

Rumi’s Kitchen. 6112 Roswell Road, Atlanta, 404-477-2100 and 7105 Avalon Blvd., Alpharetta, 678-534-8855. rumiskitchen.com.

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