How to make a Russian vegetarian appetizer to surprise even mothers-in-law

Vasilisa Malinka
If you’ve already tried all our recipes for pickled cucumbers, tomatoes and cabbage, then taste this delicious eggplant dish that can be eaten immediately or stored for winter.

Jokes about mothers-in-law are as old as civilization, and they probably exist in every country. Russia also has a few of them. In fact, we have two different words: one for the mother-in-law of the wife (tesha), and another for the mother-in-law of the husband (svekrov). Typically, however, all those jokes are always about the tesha (wife’s mother). One joke even materialized and became an entire dish, and is called “Mothers-in-law tongue”. In fact, it’s actually not just one dish, but more like a category of dishes. We are talking about a very spicy appetizer that can be prepared with various vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini and even cucumbers. The name came from the quite spicy taste. Mothers-in-law have a “sharp,” or as we say in Russian, “spicy” tongue. Thus, it’s no surprise that the shape vegetables are traditionally cut in resembles a tongue.

The most popular or traditional version of this dish is made with eggplant. This recipe is popular not only because of its versatility (remember you can use eggplant, zucchini or other vegetables, or even mix these together), but it is also simple and quick to make. It is a great vegetarian appetizer for a festive table, and also a dish that can be canned and stored for the winter to preserve all those summer flavors.


  • 4 eggplants
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 fresh or dried chili pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Oil, salt, pepper 


1. Wash your eggplants and cut off the stem. Slice lengthwise into pieces about ½ cm thick.

2. Spread them on a rack and sprinkle with salt from both sides. Wait for the moisture to release (it’ll take about 15 minutes) and wipe until dry with a paper towel. This will help the eggplants to not be bitter.

3. Clean your red bell peppers of its stems and seeds, and dice as small as possible. 

4. Cut your tomatoes in quarters and remove the seeds. Also, dice the remaining tomatoes into very small pieces.

5. Peel the garlic cloves and grate them finely. Cut the chili pepper into small pieces.

6. Heat a medium sized pan with oil and add bell peppers. Cook until soft and no longer crunchy. Then, add your grated garlic and sauté until you can smell the cooked garlic. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes. Add vinegar, chili pepper and salt and pepper to your taste.

7. Prepare a separate pan on a burner with hot oil in it. Carefully fry the eggplant slices until golden brown from both sides. Keep adding oil if necessary. Remove the cooked slices on a surface lined with paper toweling for the excess oil to be absorbed.

8. Once your eggplants are ready, prepare a jar or a deep bowl. Start by putting a slice of an eggplant on the bottom and topping it with a little bit of your pepper-tomato mixture.

9. Continue the process accordingly, pressing the vegetables with a spoon a little bit.

10. Once you have finished your vegetables, wait until your appetizer cools down and enjoy it, or close your jar and save it for the winter.

Read more:  8 Russian dishes made with pumpkins that are perfect for autumn

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