Until recently I would have said that I did not like Aubergines. Despite their obvious visual attractiveness, in the past I have often found them to be bitter and tough-skinned. However, the turning-point for me was an Aubergine dish, a sort of relish, that I encountered whilst on holiday in Turkey last year. Hesitantly trying a little of it just because it was there (served as part of a mixed starter), I had to admit that it was quite pleasant - especially when dipped-up with some of the delightful local flatbreads. So this year I have had a go at growing Aubergines in my own garden - with considerable success, I might add!
|Aubergine "Pingtung Long"|
Here is my recipe (serves two).
2 medium-sized long aubergines (or one big fat one?)
One medium onion, peeled and diced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
3 or 4 large tomatoes (approx 350g), peeled, de-seeded and chopped
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
Half teaspoon home-made chilli sambal from the fridge - or equivalent in fresh chillies
Pinch of Cinnamon powder
Pinch of Cumin powder
Squeeze of tomato puree (mainly for added colour)
Oil for cooking onions (approx one dessertspoonful)
- Cook the aubergines over a low open flame until they feel soft, and the skins are black and blistered. [I impaled mine on skewers and held them over a gas-ring. Using your oven's grill would probably work just as well.]
- Allow the cooked aubergines to cool and then peel off the blackened skins
- Wash them under a running tap to remove the last few bits of charred skin
- Put the aubergine flesh in a bowl and chop it finely
- Cook the onions in the oil, in a small saucepan, over a low flame, until soft but not brown
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further two minutes
- Add the aubergines and tomatoes to the pan of onions
- Add the spices, chilli or chilli sambal, parsley and tomato puree
- Cover the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for approx 20 minutes - until everything has blended together into an unctuous sticky sauce-like texture
- Be careful not to let it burn. Add a little water if the tomatoes are not sufficiently juicy
- Adjust seasoning to taste
- Remove from heat, allow to cool
- Transfer the relish to a suitable bowl
- Garnish with more chopped parsley and a couple of lemon wedges
Serve with flatbreads or pitta. (we had ours with home-made Lahmacun), and some crunchy home-grown Lebanese cucumbers.
The fortuitous discovery in our freezer of a half-finished bottle of Ouzo further enhanced our meal!