Sticky Sweet and Sour Aubergines
This is a recipe I've slightly tweaked a few times from Sabrina Ghayour's fantastic cookbook Bazaar, a wonderful book with a huge selection of Middle Eastern inspired dishes.
Aubergines are a 'love them' or 'hate them' vegetable, with an odd texture and sometimes bitter taste depending on how you prepare and cook them. If you are in the lover group, I can guarantee this will be your new favourite aubergine recipe. If you are a hater, please try this and then make your mind up.
Brilliant served hot with simple boiled rice and greens, or cold as a side dish with cold meats and salads.
Feeds 4 with rice
For the sauce
1 whole garlic bulb
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled, halved and cut into thin slices
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of chilli flakes
3 tbsp tamarind paste (available in most superstores and all Asian supermarkets)
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp honey
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
6 small or 4 large aubergines, cut in half and sliced into 1cm wedges
1 - Pre-heat oven to 180C/GM4. Cut the top off the garlic bulb to expose the top of the cloves. Place onto a piece of foil and drizzle with a little oil. Wrap then bake on a high shelf for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
2 - Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until caramelised.
3 - Stir through the cinnamon, chilli and tamarind paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
4 - Add the tomatoes and honey, ring to the boil then simmer, covered slightly, for 15 minutes until reduced to a thick sauce. Pop the cooked garlic cloves into the sauce and using a halnd blender, pulse until everything is combined into a rustic sauce. Taste for seasoning.
5 - While the sauce is cooking, heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the aubergines and cook slowly in batches until golden brown on each side. Don't be alarmed at the oil disappearing; aubergines are like sponges but after some cooking, they eventually release some oil. Remove and drain on kitchen towel.
6 - When finished, add to the sauce and stir through. Again, taste for seasoning. Serve with boiled rice, greens and optional scattering of chopped coriander leaves.