This easy Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra – which was known as ‘poor man’s caviar’ in the USSR – makes a deliciously-rich version of this traditional Russian dip, spread or side dish that’s somewhere in between the ikra my baboushka made that was sumptuous and velvety and the ikra popularised during the Soviet era that more closely resembled a diced salad.

My Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra, a rich dip, spread or side salad of diced eggplant, red capsicum, carrot, onion, and tomato paste is incredibly addictive and easy to make. Please don’t let the ikra recipes you may have seen before now that say this is a ‘complex’ dish to make deter you.

When prepping your ingredients, there’s a lot of dicing involved. When frying the ingredients, there’s a bit of stirring required, so that nothing sticks and everything is cooking evenly. But there are no complex skills required.

Sure, it’s time-consuming. It will take you around 90 minutes to make our Russian eggplant caviar recipe the first time. But like any recipe, the more you make it the easier it becomes and the faster you get at making the thing.

I’ll tell you more about this ikra recipe in a moment, but first I have a favour to ask.

If you have cooked any of our recipes from Russia or beyond and you have liked them, can you please consider supporting Grantourismo so that we can keep posting recipes and culinary stories. We have ideas in this post for ways you can support Grantourismo but here are a few more suggestions…

You could buy something from our online store (we have everything from gifts for food lovers to cool cloth face masks for foodes produced from Terence’s photographs); make a donation or become a patron of our original Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon; or purchase something on Amazon, such as one of these cookbooks for foodie travellers, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, James Beard 2020 award-winning cookbooks, or cookbooks by Australian chefs.

Now let me tell you about my easy Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra, considered the poor man’s caviar during the Soviet era.

Easy Russian Eggplant Caviar Recipe for Ikra – The Soviet Union’s Poor Man’s Caviar

Our Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra was called the ‘poor man’s caviar’ during Russia’s Soviet period as it was a vegetable-based dish that (sort of) resembled caviar and was eaten just as Russians have long eaten caviar, on toasted baguette slices.

In terms of texture, my Russian eggplant caviar recipe is based on a combination of the old Russian ikra recipes where the ingredients were diced, and in terms of flavour, it’s based on my baboushka’s Russian ikra recipe, which was more rustic and chunky, yet full of so much flavour. Of all my baboushka’s dishes, it was perhaps the dish that I most adored.

Baba would serve ikra as one of the array of dishes that she’d cook and serve during family gatherings, especially our family’s never-ending Sunday lunches that would begin around midday and continue until well past dinner time, and for Russian Christmas and Russian Easter.

Baba would serve a big bowl of ikra alongside an array of dishes that filled their big oak table that typically included a Russian garden salad, beetroot potato salad, savoury pirozhki (hand pies), stuffed cabbage rolls, potato vareniki and meat pelmeni. There’d also be dishes of dill pickles, sour cream, and crunchy cucumbers from papa’s backyard veggie garden.

If there were just a few of us eating – perhaps baba, papa and myself, and maybe one of my uncles, then she might serve the ikra as a side dish or an accompaniment to a main such as kotleti or chicken meat patties.

Do let us know if you need any tips to making my Russian eggplant caviar recipe for ikra, the ‘poor man’s caviar’ that for me is one of the most sumptuous dishes of all my family’s Russian recipes.

Russian Eggplant Caviar Recipe for Ikra

Russian Eggplant Caviar Recipe for Ikra or Poor Man’s Caviar. What to cook this week. Copyright © 2021 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Russian Eggplant Caviar Recipe for Ikra

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dip, Side Dish, Snack, Starter
Cuisine: Russian
Servings: 4 People
Calories: 147kcal
Author: Lara Dunston


  • 2 tbsp cooking oil canola or olive oil
  • 320 g eggplants diced
  • 150 g carrot diced
  • 150 g onion diced
  • 210 g red bell pepper diced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper ground or to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar or to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley roughly chopped


  • 1 tbsp fresh dill roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley roughly chopped


  • Slice the eggplants in rounds of 1cm in diameter, lay them out on a tray, sprinkle salt on them, then let them rest for 15 minutes. Pat them down with a paper towel to soak up any moisture, then cut them into cubes, slide them into a frying pan, and fry them in a generous amount of olive oil until soft.
  • Meanwhile, in another pan, fry the diced carrots, finely chopped onions and garlic, and diced red capsicum in olive oil until soft. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, sugar, 100 mls of water, pop the lid on, and simmer on low heat for another ten minutes or so.
  • By this time your eggplants should be soft, so add them to the carrot, onion and red peppers, combine well, add the remaining 100 mls of water, pop the lid on, and continue to simmer for another ten minutes.
  • Take the pan off the heat and add a tablespoon each of the roughly chopped fresh dill and parsley, combine well, taste, and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  • Transfer to a baking pan greased with olive oil, cover in aluminium foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
  • When done, transfer to a bowl to cool, garnish with additional fresh dill and parsley, and serve as the Russians do with toasted baguette slices.


Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 709mg | Potassium: 616mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 8297IU | Vitamin C: 80mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg


Please do let us know if you make our Russian eggplant caviar recipe in the comments below, by email or on social media, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.

End of Article



Sign up below to receive our monthly newsletter to your In Box for special subscriber-only content, travel deals, tips, and inspiration.

100% Privacy. We hate spam too and will never give your email address away.

Support our Cambodia Cookbook & Culinary History Book with a donation or monthly pledge on Patreon.

Shop for related products