Sunday, 26 August 2012

I like Aubergines!

Who would have thought it?

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!

After a slow start, my two Aubergine plants began producing fruits in mid-August, and there is now no stopping them:

Aubergine "Pingtung Long"
Encouraged by the good growing results I have finally plucked up the courage to try cooking with Aubergines, and I have made an attempt to re-create the dip that we liked so much in Turkey.

Here is my recipe (serves two).

Aubergine relish

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!


  1. I would try it but our aubergine plants although they have flowered have produced no fruits at all!!

  2. Ah this recipe is somewhat similar to the pasta sauce that is simmering on the stove right now. The main difference is that you would trade out your spices for oregano and I add wine and some water along with a 28 or so ounces of tomatoes.

  3. I love aubergine and that dip looks delicious. We ate a similar one in Greece but without the tomatoes and spices.

  4. Certainly a recipe for trying. Looks like a low calorie dip too, which comes in handy for me at the moment.
    Our aubergines have only just started producing fruits after a whole 'summer' of flowers blooming, shriveling and falling.

  5. Hi Mark, I have never tried an aubergine before. I've always just thought of it as a 'color'! ha! The dish looks very tasty! Great photo's and glad to hear you've managed to get enough sun in August to produce some veggies! Cheers, Jenni

  6. I love eggplants! They are special - easy to grow, good looking plants and the ingredient for so many delicious things. Thanks for this recipe, I will be making it!

  7. I love eggplants! But I think your experience with them (thick skin & bitter) maybe the dark purple globe variety they typically sell in the markets. I, personally, love the japanese varieties. I think they are thin skinned and sweeter. This year I'm growing Millionaire and last year Ichiban. Last year I loved the Listada de Gandia (an Italian heirloom). It was beautiful. That one was tasty (although a round/globe type). This year I'm trying Rosa Bianca.

  8. That looks like a great tasting recipe. I must admit I've given up on growing aubergines after last year's disaster but may try again next year.

  9. I was thinking to myself when you had posted that you were growing them "Didn't Mark say he did not like them?" Well I am glad you did! The plants look very healthy and that dip looks wonderful. I have some left over flatbread from yesterday's feast that would go well with it!

  10. That looks lovely Mark. To be honest aubergine relish sounded pretty awful but if thats the finished dish, I will give it a try.

  11. Mark, I commented on this but it is not showing up. Congratulations on the success for growing these but I think I am more pleased you found them platable!


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