I came across this Lebanese dish (Mussaka’A Menazzaleh) in Claudia Roden’s excellent Arabesque. I had actually intended making Ratatouille but discovered that I had forgotten to buy courgettes. Also, the preparation looked like more work than I wanted and the amount of olive oil involved would definitely have alerted the ‘fat police’. So I thought this recipe looked tasty, fairly straightforward and importantly I had all the ingredients to hand.
It turned out to be absolutely delicious, with a delicate sweet-and-sour flavour, and it tasted even better the next day eaten at room temperature. So give it a try!
Makes: 6 portions
Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 15 mins + 40 mins
2 or 3
400g 1 tin
|Aubergines (about 750g total)
Cloves of garlic (crushed)
Tomatoes (skinned, seeded and chopped)
Tomato juice (optional but gives nice consistency)
Good olive oil
Fresh black pepper
Flat-leafed parsley (chopped)
Trim the end of the aubergines, slice in half lengthways and then across into half-rounds about as thick as your finger. Arrange on an oven rack, brush each side with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill until golden on both sides: about 15 minutes altogether.
Place a tablespoon of oil into a good-sized saucepan and add the crushed garlic. Put onto a low-medium heat. As soon as the garlic starts to colour, add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and juice if using. Cook gently for 15 minutes or so. Then stir in the pomegranate molasses and carefully fold in the aubergine slices. Continue to simmer for 25 minutes or so, at which stage the aubergine should be very soft. Add the chickpeas about 10 minutes before the end to heat through.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the parsley. Goes really well with grilled white meats such as chicken.
This Georgian-influenced meze is known as Cevizli Patlican in Turkey. It is simple to make and tastes delicious, despite the prodigious amounts of garlic involved. You certainly won’t be bothered by vampires after this dish, but gently frying the garlic and mixing it with walnuts mellows the flavour a lot. Try to get hold of walnuts that have not been stored for too long as they can taste bitter, but this can be compensated by blanching briefly and drying well in a very low oven.
Makes: 4 starter portions
Total Time: about 40 mins
Shelled walnut halves
Garlic (more or less depending on tastes)
Good olive oil
Nice wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 240°C. Wash and dry the aubergines. Chop off the stalk and cut lengthways into slices about as thick as your finger. You should easily get 4 proper slices from each aubergine. Wrap a baking sheet with foil and oil well. Arrange the aubergine slices on the sheet and brush well with olive olive. Turn over and brush the other side too. Place in the oven on an upper shelf. Bake for about half an hour until golden on both sides, turning over once.
Meanwhile, chop the walnuts using a food processor or herb chopper. Aim for finely chopped but don’t let them become a paste. Crush the garlic and put into a cold pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put over a lowish heat and let the garlic release its aroma and start to sizzle, but don’t let it colour. Mix the chopped walnuts and parsley in a small bowl, then stir in the the garlic and oil. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to bring everything together and to give consistency you can spread.
When the aubergines are ready, generously brush the upper surface of each slice with wine vinegar and sprinkle with a little salt. Divide the walnut, garlic and parsley mix evenly between the slices and spread.
Let cool before serving. Enjoy!