BABAGANOUSH SALAD

Babaganoush is a popular Levantine dish of grilled aubergine, seasoned with garnishes varying through the seasons.

It’s a real crowd pleaser, that will silence the most die hard Carnivore at the dinner table. Traditionally scooped up with khobez (flatbread) as part of a mezze and enjoyed across the Eastern Mediterranean. The Turkish version, Patlıcan Salatası is spiked with smoky red peppers, garlic, chilli flakes, and roasted tomato and finished with a dollop of thick yogurt.

My summery version is drizzled with fruity, sweet and sour pomegranate molasses, a generous dollop of earthy saffron infused yogurt, a handful freshly picked mint and parsley leaves, pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts. Have fun and experiment garnishing with different combinations of your favourite vegetables.

SERVES:

4 as part of a meze

COOKS IN:

Less than 45 minutes

DIFFICULTY:

Not tricky

INGREDIENTS

2 medium sized aubergines

Saffron yogurt:

a small pinch of saffron strands

60ml hot water

200 g thick lebneh or Greek-style yogurt

½ garlic clove, finely crushed

2 tbsp. lemon juice

sea salt flakes, to taste

Garnish:

3 tablespoon Pomegranate molasses

handful fresh mint leaves

handful fresh parsley leaves

2 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

Extra virgin olive oil

Wild Sumac

Urfa Chilli flakes (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper

METHOD

Start by preparing the saffron yogurt, as this can be made up to 2 days in advance. Place the saffron strands into a cup, add the hot water and leave to infuse until the liquid is cool, to extract the maximum colour and flavour. Strain the infusion to remove the strands and pour into a bowl containing the yoghurt, finely crushed garlic, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Gently whisk the yogurt, until smooth and golden in appearance. Taste for seasoning and chill until ready to use.

Prick the Aubergines a couple of times with a sharp knife to stop them exploding during cooking. Blacken the aubergines over a barbeque, or gas hob, turning regularly until completely charred. Rest for 15 minutes.

When cooler enough to handle, slit the aubergines lengthways and assemble on a serving dish. Season the aubergine with salt and pepper, drizzle with pomegranate molasses, add a spoonful of saffron yogurt to each aubergine half, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, mint leaves, parsley leaves, pomegranate seeds and finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of Wild sumac and Urfa Chilli flakes.

Recipe by James Walters, self-taught chef and founder of Arabica.

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