A delicious side dish for your meals, Torrejas de Berenjenas (Battered Fried Eggplants) is also easy and quick to make, and it requires few ingredients. It's also a vegetarian favorite.
We're on a mission to spread the love for these Torrejas de Berenjenas (Fried Eggplants), but we are surprised (we're really not) that we don't seem to all agree on what these things are supposed to be called.
My mom called them torrejas de berenjenas, but some just call them berenjenas fritas. These are not the only torrejas in the Dominican Republic, the word is also used to refer to other types of fritters, like cornmeal and cassava fritters. This piqued my curiosity, as words and their usage normally do.
What's a torreja?
The book Diccionario of Dominicanismos by Carlos E. Deive  doesn't give us a lot of information, calling it simply "an antiquated word for torrija". Torrija is a French toast-type dessert consisting of bread soaked in milk, sweetened, and fried. Dominicans know it (it's not that well-known) as tostada francesa. Torrija sounds a lot like our torrejas, except that all of the torrejas I know are savory dishes.
So what did I learn from all this? Not much really, it was just a reminder that language is complicated, and combined with foods even more so. And that we have to be careful when ordering unfamiliar foods in unfamiliar countries because the idea of an eggplant-based dessert is--frankly--quite repulsive.
Torrejas de Berenjenas Recipe (Battered Fried Eggplants)
- 2 large eggplants
- 2 tablespoons of milk, (or water)
- 4 tablespoons of cornstarch
- 2 large eggs, (or 3 medium ones)
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper
- ¾ teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of oil for frying
Slice: Cut the eggplants into ¼ inch-thick [½ cm] slices.
- Batter: Combine milk (or water), cornstarch, eggs, a pinch of pepper and a teaspoon of salt. Mix well. Dip the eggplants in this mixture.
- Fry: In a frying pan heat 3 tablespoons of oil. Fry the eggplant slices until they turn golden brown, pouring a bit of the batter around them. Add oil by the tablespoons whenever needed. Rest on a paper towel to soak excess oil.
Serve: Use as a side dish, or meat substitute in your lunch, serve freshly fried.
-  Carlos Esteban Deive, Diccionario de Dominicanismos. 2da ed. Sto. Dgo: Ed. Lib. La Trinitaria, 2002.