"One hundred percent. This is kashk. One hundred percent."
This is what the shopkeeper at Babylon Market assured me of when I visited the Falls Church specialty grocer one Saturday morning on a desperate search for kashk. It certainly didn't help that I had no idea what kashk looked like or tasted like. All I had to go on was pictures of jars of kashk that I had found on the internet. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical since the internet pictures were jars and the shopkeeper directed me towards boxes that looked like silken tofu.
One of the hidden bonuses of maintaining a healthy food blog is it forces me to search out new and exotic ingredients. I recently ate at a Persian restaurant and tasted some of the best eggplant I have ever had. I looked up "Persian eggplant recipe" and found several recipes which included this mysterious ingredient called kashk. After some research, I learned that kashk is a dairy product made from drained, dried yogurt.
After fruitlessly searching for kashk at our local grocery chain, I almost decided to substitute with plain yogurt or sour cream as some recipes suggested. Then I remembered this small Middle Eastern market hidden in the back of a shopping plaza in Falls Church. I figured a place called Babylon Market just might have the elusive ingredient.
It turned out that I was right. In fact, I was one hundred percent right. Heeding the advice of the owner, I picked up the box of kashk and headed home. I opened up the box and indeed found a dried ball of kashk sitting in a pool of cloudy liquid resembling the whey found in a carton of yogurt. I followed the instructions for Creamy Persian Eggplant Dip (Kashk-e Bademjan) and this is how the dish turned out:
I don't know if it was the salting of the eggplant, the caramelized onions, or the kashk, but this was indeed one of the creamiest eggplants I have ever made. I am thankful to the knowledgeable and affable shopkeeper at Babylon Market. Unlike the processed food we often cram into our mouths, food cooked from scratch is authentic and real. It is the only way to be assured that the food you are putting into your body is indeed good for your body, one hundred percent.