This is one of the most amazing ways with eggplant I have ever tasted, at once sweet, hot and sharp, straight out of Middle Eastern expert Claudia Roden’s kitchen. Expect your guests to be wowed. Yoghurt is my addition (I added too much chilli!)
2 medium eggplants (aubergines) 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed Olive oil 2 Tbsp grated peeled ginger 1 tsp ground cumin seeds Pinch of chilli powder 5 Tbsp runny honey Juice 1 lemon Plain unsweetened yoghurt and mint and coriander for serving, optional 75ml (5 Tbsp) water
1 Slice eggplants into thick rounds. Transfer them to a cake rack and let them dry for 15-20 minutes.
2 Prepare the honey sauce. In a wide frying pan, fry the garlic in two tablespoons of oil for seconds only, stirring until the aroma rises, then take the pan off the heat before it browns. Off the heat add the ginger, cumin and chilli powder, the honey, lemon juice and water. Set aside.
3 Pour a little oil onto a large plate. Dunk eggplant slices one by one in the oil then cook them in a ridged grill pan or on a barbecue hot plate until they are browned. They do not need to be thoroughly cooked as they will cook further in the sauce. Drain them on kitchen paper and gently press more paper on top to remove as much oil as possible.
4 Now cook the eggplant slices in the honey sauce over low heat, either in batches so that they are in one layer, or put them all in together and rearrange them so that each gets some cooking in the sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the slices have absorbed the sauce and become soft; add a little more water if necessary. Let cool and serve cold or at room temperature with bread and yoghurt if liked (or you add too much chilli!).
Claudia Roden wrote the definitive book on Jewish food The Book of Jewish Food (1996) along with many superb books(well north of 20) including books on Middle Eastern, Italian, Spanish, Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisines. We cooked together in my Auckland home and again in her London home. Here’s a recipe we shared, which I first featured in my book Take A Vine-ripened Tomato (published in 1999). I’ve tinkered with it over the past 22 years and all I can say is, people love it, no matter if I occasionally overdose the chilli! (You can always swirl in yoghurt!)
Claudia Roden’s new book Med: A Cookbook was published 2nd September and should be available in New Zealand some time soon.