Aubergines with Tomatoes and Chickpeas

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!

Summary

Makes: 6 portions
Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 15 mins + 40 mins

Ingredients

2
2 or 3
500g
2 tbsp
2 tsp
1½ tbsp
400g 1 tin
Aubergines (about 750g total)
Cloves of garlic (crushed)
Tomatoes (skinned, seeded and chopped)
Tomato juice (optional but gives nice consistency)
Sugar
Pomegranate molasses
Chickpeas (drained)
Good olive oil
Salt
Fresh black pepper
Flat-leafed parsley (chopped)

Method

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.