This recipe comes from the latest book by Nigella Lawson ‘At my table’. Since I first saw it a few month ago, I’ve already made it several times. It’s my new ‘go to’ recipe for dinner parties, as it’s perfect for sharing, easily adaptable to the vegetarian version (just replace the beef mince with Quorn/soya mince, or double the quantities of aubergine and add the mushrooms). I normally serve it with the roasted vegetables, couscous or herby bulgur wheat on side. Everyone loves it.
BEEF & AUBERGINE FATTEH
(Nigella Lawson recipe)
For the base:
4 pitta breads, split open and cut into nacho-sized triangles
For the sauce:
500g Greek-style yoghurt
4 tablespoons tahini, at room temperature
1 lemon, juice only
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1–2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, to taste
125g pomegranate seeds
50g toasted pine nuts (optional)
1 tbsp finely shredded mint leaves (optional)
For the ‘meaty’ layer:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or paprika, plus extra for sprinkling
1–2 teaspoon sea salt flakes, to taste
500g beef mince
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
To make the aubergine-beef layer, warm the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or casserole, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, over a medium-low heat for 5 minutes, then turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden colour.
Turn the heat up to medium, add the aubergine cubes and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat down if they look as if they’re catching.
Stir in the cumin, coriander and a teaspoon each Aleppo pepper and sea salt flakes. Turn the heat up to high, add the mince and use a fork to break it up a little and turn in the pan until it’s lost its red colour. Turn the heat back down to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through. Taste to see if you want to add more salt, then take off the heat.
- To make a sauce, pour about 3cm of just-boiled water into a fresh pan and put over a low heat. Sit the bowl with the ‘tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt’ mixture on top, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Beat well until the yogurt is slightly above room temperature and has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Set aside.
- Toast the pitta breads and cut it into triangles.
To assemble, arrange the crisp pitta triangles on a large plate. Top with the aubergine-beef mixture, followed by the yoghurt-tahini sauce. Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper or paprika to give a light dusting. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and, finally, strew with the finely shredded mint leaves. Eat with your fingers, nacho-style.
Aubergine is not the vegetable you usually find in a chilli, but their meaty, spongy texture perfectly absorbs all the flavours and together with the beans makes a delicious combo.
MIXED BEANS AND AUBERGINE CHILLI
(recipe adapted from S. Rimmer’s ‘The Accidental Vegetarian’ book)
about 80ml vegetable oil
1-2 aubergines, depends on the size, cut into chunky cubes
1 red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 red chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin mixed beans
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese/soured cream to serve (optional)
- Heat some oil in a pan and fry the aubergine pieces for about 7 minutes or until they get some colour and soften. Remove and drain on the kitchen towel.
- Fry the onions until soft and translucent, add chopped green peppers, continue to fry for another 4 minutes. Add the garlic, chillies, all spices, stir well and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Then add the beans, tomatoes, aubergines, sugar and cocoa powder (if you use it) and a cup of water. Season well, cover with the lead and cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes.
- Check again for seasoning and serve with rice/baked potatoes, with dollop of soured cream and some grated cheese.
I love aubergines in all forms and in any kind of dish. I was intrigued to see Gok Wan’s version of cooking the aubergine in his recent Cookbook. He braised them with pork and anchovies. The result is delicious and extremely easy to achieve.
The only thing, my dish didn’t look as good as Gok’s and looks like the pork mince rather than the aubergines was the star of the show. The aubergines literally melted and sank to the bottom, forming the most delicious base of this dish. It proved once again that you can’t judge something but its look.
BRAISED AUBERGINE WITH PORK
3 teaspoons groundnut oil
150g minced pork
4 anchovy fillets, drained and finely sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 aubergines, trimmed and chopped into 3cm dice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
3 teaspoons sesame oil
4 spring onions, sliced
- Heat the oil in a wok over a high heat. When hot, add the minced pork and stir-fry for 2 minutes until the pork starts to brown at the edges.
- Add the anchovy fillets and garlic and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add the cubed aubergines and stir intermittently for the next 3–4 minutes, until the aubergines begin to brown and soften at the edges.
- Reduce the heat to medium, pour in both types of soy sauce and add half the water. Bring to the boil and put a lid on the wok. Simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes. It’s important to ensure the pan does not run dry, so keep checking and add more water, using the entire 200ml if necessary.
- Cook the aubergines down until they are virtually falling apart. At this point, stir in the sesame oil and remove to a plate. Sprinkle liberally with sliced spring onions and serve with rice.
I also chopped some coriander on top before serving,- I like the taste, but it’s also to brighten up the colour of very brown looking dish.
I always say, if I had to choose to have just one cookery book, it would definitely be Eat by Nigel Slater. I just love his approach to food and cooking, his frugal, seasonal, simple no-fuss, but innovative and always delicious food. So, this book is never far away from me and I constantly refer to it either for recipes or just for inspiration.
One of my absolute favourite recipe from it is an Aubergine and Chickpea dish. It’s embarrassingly easy to make, but it always gets a ‘wow’ reaction from everyone who tries it. The main thing is to season the dish well, as both of the main ingredients (chickpeas and aubergines are rather bland by nature). You can eat it as a main or make it as a starter on its own or on a slice of good toasted bread.
AUBERGINE AND CHICKPEAS
(Recipe is taken from Eat book by Nigel Slater)
1 large aubergine
1 400g can of chickpeas
sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 garlic cloves
black pepper and salt to taste
- Slice an aubergine into thick rounds and place them in a single layer in a grill pan or on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, scatter with a tablespoon of chopped rosemary needles, salt, black pepper and 2 cloves of finely crushed garlic. Cook under an overhead grill, adding a little more oil as necessary, for 10 minutes or so, until the aubergine is golden brown and tender. Turn each piece and allow to brown lightly on the other side.
- Drain a can of chickpeas and warm half the contents in a small pan with a little olive oil, salt and some black pepper. Blitz in a blender or food processor with half the grilled aubergine to give a soft, quite smooth puree. Fry the reserved chickpeas for a few minutes in a little oil in a pan tip hot, then stir, whole, into the puree. Correct the seasoning then serve with the warm, grilled aubergine and some bread.
From a long experience cooking this dish, I can say that sometime, I found the grilled aubergines can be a bit dry, so I prefer to bake them in the oven instead. It takes a bit longer then grilling, but the end result is much better. Also, the puree can also come out a bit dry, in this case, just simply add more olive oil/splash of water. You can play around with adding some spices or herbs you like. Serve any green veg or chunky potato chips on the side.