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.
4 as part of a meze
Less than 45 minutes
2 medium sized aubergines
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
handful fresh mint leaves
handful fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
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.