When George Pagonis asks for charred, he means charred. As in so burned it’s barely recognizable. That’s the case, anyway, with eggplant, the main ingredient in the melitzanosalata at Kapnos, the Greek restaurant he co-owns in Washington. “Hands down, it’s our best-selling spread,” Pagonis says. The cooks go through 75 large eggplants a day, blackening them for a full hour on the wood-fired grill. Anyone who has applied smoke to eggplant knows the alchemy that results.

What’s an indoor — or propane-loving — cook to do? Pagonis scoffed at the thought, but a broiler and a pinch of a decidedly non-Greek ingredient — Spanish-smoked paprika — can achieve an almost-as-good result. It’s not alchemy, but it’s close.

Greek Eggplant Dip (Melitzanosalata)

8 servings (Makes about 2½ cups)

1. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium-high heat. For cooking indoors, preheat the oven broiler and set the rack so the eggplant will be a few inches from the flame or element.

2. Pierce 3 large eggplants all over with a knife. Rub the eggplants and 1 medium red bell pepper with canola oil, then place them directly on the grill or on a rimmed baking sheet under the broiler. Turn the pepper every few minutes, until the skin is lightly blistered all over, 10 to 15 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a plate to steam.

3. Cook the eggplants, turning as needed, until they have thoroughly blackened and burned to an ashen crisp on each side and completely collapsed, up to 1 hour total. Let cool.

4. Once the pepper has cooled, discard the stem, ribs and seeds. Cut the flesh into ½-inch dice. Slice into each cooled eggplant and scrape out the flesh. You need about 1½ cups total.

5. Combine the eggplant and pepper in a bowl with ¼ cup finely chopped red onion, ½ cup barrel-aged feta cheese, ½ cup toasted walnuts, 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil and ½ teaspoon fine sea salt; mix thoroughly. If you used a gas grill or broiler, stir in ½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton). Taste and add vinegar, salt and/or paprika if needed. Scrape into a serving bowl and garnish with more walnuts and feta and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves. Serve with pita bread.