In the U.S. we usually grill eggplants in slices. For certain dishes, though, using the fire of the grill to roast the entire eggplant while it's still whole and encased in its peel is a great way to use a heat source that's outside on a hot day.
As you can see in the picture, this cooking method is as simple as setting an eggplant (or two or three) on a grill. No need to oil the eggplant, but make sure the cooking grate is scrubbed clean before you set the eggplant(s) on it.
It's All About the Heat
Ideally, you want that grill to be medium-low or even low heat. You should be able to hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for at least 4 seconds before pulling it away from the heat. If you pull your hand away any quicker, the grill is probably too hot; let it cool down before you proceed.
The one mistake you can make is that the grill is too hot, charring and burning the peel and flesh before the eggplant can cook down into a tender, melting mess.
Just Let the Eggplant Sit
How long should you leave the eggplant on there? Until it collapses as shown. Depending on the size of the eggplant and the heat, this will take anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes. Thinner Asian-style eggplants will take less time, while big globe eggplants can take up to an hour.
Make Clever Use of a Hot Grill
My favorite trick is to set the eggplant(s) on the grill when I'm done cooking a grilled dinner.
I turn a gas grill to low and cook until I'm done eating dinner or simply cover a charcoal grill and let them cook until the coals burn out. Have I ever forgotten them overnight? Sure. They're still tender and ready to use.
What to Do With Whole Grilled Eggplant
The supremely tender flesh inside a whole grilled eggplant is perfect for scooping out of the skin and whirling into classic Baba Gannouj, a delicious eggplant dip that's ideal with pita bread, crisped up pita chips, carrot sticks and other raw veggies.
I also like to turn such eggplant into Grilled Eggplant Dip, which also works as a creamy smooth salad on a buffet.
Or, use it as a cooling element alongside spicy food or grilled meats in this Eggplant Raita, a mix of the tender eggplant from one of these grilled specimens mixed with a bit of chopped onion, chopped tomato, a bit of garlic and spice, and a dollop or more of yogurt.