This recipe first appeared in the Guardian in 2017, and has become one of my daughter’s go-to recipes. It is quite quick and easy, and delicious. I don’t worry about salting the aubergines that are in the shops just now, they don’t have many seeds and they are young and tender.
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 400g tinned tomatoes
1 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, or any other regular mild to moderate chilli powder
3/4 tsp turmeric
1 slightly heaped tsp salt
around 3 aubergines, cut in half lengthways and then into 1cm thick slices
300g dried black-eyed beans (or two cans of cooked beans)
40g fresh dill
greek yoghurt, salted and whipped with dill and mint.
Rinse the black-eyed beans and put them in a lot of cold water on the hob, bring to the boil and simmer while you chop and cook the rest of the ingredients. Top up with water so they don’t boil dry.
Heat the oil over a medium heat, and then add the chopped garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to colour, and then lob in the tomatoes, turn the heat down and simmer until the mixture is soft. You should do this for tinned tomatoes as well, as it will lessen the tinny taste.
Add the chilli, turmeric and salt and cook for a couple of minutes before adding in the aubergine. Stir, cover and cook over a low heat for at least 20 minutes, until the aubergines are tender.
Stir in the beans, bring back to a simmer, and adjust the seasoning.
Just before serving, add the chopped dill.
This is good with plain boiled rice, yoghurt and flat-breads, and possibly a side salad. For a vegan version, use a vegan yoghurt.
I love aubergines, and there were some great aubergines in the shop the other day, so I was inspired enough to order some quinces from Real Foods, a wholefood supplier in Edinburgh. I nearly didn’t post this recipe, because quinces aren’t something that is readily available, but it was excellent. The recipe is from one of my favourite recipe books, Nightingales and Roses. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly because the weather was nasty, time was of the essence and I discovered I didn’t have enough onions.
I used a bit of leg of mutton to make this, and cooked it quite slowly. I did it in two stages as I was cooking for others after work. The stew itself is very easy, everything is layered into one pot and simmered. I find that preparing stews in the evening, and then finishing the cooking the next evening works well for developing the flavours. I should imagine it would work well in a slow cooker.
4 tbsp olive oil
4 onions, peeled and thickly sliced (should have been 6 – see above)
600g thick slices of mutton or lamb
1 1/2 tbsp sumac (this gives the stew a wonderful dark colour)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 large aubergines, thickly sliced and salted
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 large quince, peeled and chopped, core removed
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 large potatoes, thickly sliced. (I added these on the next day when I heated the stew up and finished the cooking.)
Pour half the oil into the bottom of a casserole dish or large saucepan, and arrange half of the onion slices on the bottom. Next, layer in the meat slices.
Mix the sumac, turmeric, salt and pepper, and sprinkle a third of this over the meat, and then add the rest of the onions.
Rinse any salt off the aubergines and arrange them on top, then the garlic slices and another third of the spice mix.
Add the sliced quince, then top this with the rest of the spice mix and the chopped tomatoes.
Mix the water with the tomato paste and the rest of the oil, whisk to combine, and pour over the top.
Cover tightly and cook on a low heat for an hour and a half (I cooked for two hours on account of using mutton). (At this point I turned off the heat and went to bed.)
Remove the lid and add the potato slices, and spoon some of the gravy over the top. Continue to simmer for a further half hour until the potatoes are tender and most of the gravy has cooked down.
Sprinkle with a pinch of sumac, and serve with bread and a little light salad.
I have been given some fresh local tender rabbits to cook, and I’m very excited. I don’t have many go-to recipes for rabbit, so I am trying some out. I’m hoping to get more and try out a Spanish recipe that uses chorizo. This time I went with an Italian vibe.
1 rabbit, cut into five (2 front legs, 2 back legs, one saddle)
30g pancetta or diced streaky bacon
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp dried marjoram, or a handful of fresh marjoram
Salt and pepper
A glass of dry sherry, or Marsala wine
Water or stock
A small aubergine, cut into 2cm cubes, set in a colander and salted
One red sweet pepper, or a pimento for preference, sliced into strips
Heat the butter in the bottom of a braising pan or shallow casserole dish. Fry the bacon and the celery together.
As the fat starts to run from the bacon, add the rabbit to the pan and turn the pieces over to let them brown.
Add the tomatoes, chopped garlic, marjoram and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, before adding the Marsala. Bring back to a simmer and reduce by half.
Add water or stock so that the rabbit is just about covered, put the lid on the pan and simmer for around half an hour.
Rinse the salted aubergine, and add to the top of the pan. Continue to cook for another 20 minutes, and then add the sliced red pepper. Cook for another ten minutes.
We served this with potatoes, because we have a lot of them. I would think that polenta would be an excellent accompaniment.
There were some aubergines reduced in price at Neillie’s shop, and I had most of the rest of the ingredients already, so I tried out this recipe from ‘Nightingales and Roses’ – really delicious and also vegan and virtuous. Best served with flat bread and Greek yoghurt.
8 tbsp vegetable oil
3 aubergines (or 2 if they are large) – 1cm slices
6 red onions
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp dried lime powder (optional, I got mine online)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced.
1 large red pepper – cut into 2cm pieces
4 tomatoes – 1 cm slices
2+ potatoes – peeled, 1cm slices
Put a couple of spoonfuls of the oil in a frying pan, and fry the aubergine slices in a single layer in batches; cover the pan and fry for 4-5 minutes until one side is brown, then turn to fry the second side. Add small amounts of oil as required for each batch. Set aside the fried aubergine.
Chop two of the onions finely, and fry in a couple of spoonfuls of oil over a medium heat for around 10 minutes, until golden brown. Stir in the turmeric towards the end of the frying time.
Meanwhile, mix salt, pepper, chilli and lime powder in a small bowl or cup.
Use a large wide casserole dish. Put 2 tbsp oil in the bottom. Slice the remaining onions into 1cm slices, and arrange them across the bottom of the dish in a single layer (you may need more or less onions depending on their size). Cover with the fried aubergine, then 1/3 of the spice mix, half of the fried onions, and then half the sliced garlic. Then add the red pepper, the rest of the garlic, the rest of the fried onions. Next, a layer of sliced tomatoes, the rest of the spices, and a layer of sliced potatoes. Put the lid on the pan.
Bring to a simmer on the hob, then turn the heat to very low and cook for at least an hour, until the sauce has reduced. If it looks as if it is drying out, add a little hot water.
You know how it is: You go to the shops to buy a green pepper, and they are only available as a pack of three mixed peppers. I ended up with a couple of red peppers, and then found this recipe in Moro. I adapted a little to locally available ingredients.
1 large aubergine
2 red peppers (I had one red and one yellow pepper, which made for an attractive dish)
1 clove of garlic
a squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
100g Greek-style yoghurt, seasoned with salt and pepper
25g caramelised butter
fresh coriander leaves
Turn the oven to 220C. Pierce the skins of the aubergine and peppers, and put them in the oven on a tray for 40 to 45 minutes. I turned them a couple of times, and took the peppers out earlier than the aubergine.
When the skins of the peppers and aubergine are cooked, cool the vegetables until you can handle them, and peel off the skin.
Chop the aubergine coarsely, and mix in the crushed garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil, and season to taste. Spread the mixture over the base of a serving plate
Remove the seeds from the peppers, and chop them coarsely, season lightly and strew artistically over the aubergines.
Pour the yoghurt in blobs over the dish, and spoon over with caramelised butter. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with pitta bread or other flatbread.
To make caramelised butter, melt butter in a small pan, and heat gently until the milk solids turn a golden brown. Watch carefully, or it will all go wrong.
This is the first of several recipes from Turkey, from our cooking class at Cookistan. I was really impressed with the quality of food that we produced. Some of these recipes are seasonal, so if you were to book with them, you’re sure to learn something new.
We made stuffed dried aubergines, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed courgettes. The dried aubergines, pepper puree and vine leaves are available from Turkishop online, but peppers, beef tomatoes, or onions could be used.
8 dried aubergines, or 8 good sized courgettes, or a jar of vine leaves in brine. If you can’t get vine leaves, then chard leaves would do.
50g rice or fine bulgar wheat
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp pepper puree
salt and pepper
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup of water
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder or chilli flakes
1 handful of chopped parsley
Plain yoghurt to serve (you could add garlic, salt and pepper to the yoghurt)
If you are using dried aubergines, these need to be soaked in boiling water for around 5 minutes. They need to be weighed down to ensure they are completely submerged, and then rinsed in cold water. If you are using courgettes, use a teaspoon, melon baller (or a special Turkish courgette knife) to hollow them out. First, cut them in half across the way, not lengthways, and trim the end to make them steady to stand up in the pan. Then, hollow them out carefully. Other vegetables can be prepared in a similar way.
Mix all the other ingredients, and mix them together with your hands.
Stuff the vegetables to about 3/4 full. During the cooking, the rice expands, so you need to leave a little bit of room.
To stuff vine leaves, put each leaf shiny side down with the pointy bits pointing away. Put a line of mince about the size of your little finger across the bottom of the vine leaf. Start rolling the leaf round the mince, working away from you, folding in the sides as you go. There are lots of versions on youtube to check for the method.
Put the stuffed vegetables in a casserole dish large enough for them all to fit with the open ends up. Put a plate over the top to keep them in place, smaller than the pan. Pour in around 500ml boiling water, and simmer the vegetables until they are cooked, around 45 minutes.
Serve as a meze dish with yoghurt flavoured with garlic.
This is the first recipe I have tried from the ‘Cook for Syria’ recipe book. The book is a collection of recipes from Syria, and so much more. It tells about the culture of food and sharing in Syria, builds links with people using the #CookForSyria @CookForSyria tags, and raising money for Unicef to help children affected by fighting in their beautiful country.
I served it to a visitor, and we shared a lot of stories about the ethics and politics of food. I had to make a few adaptions to fit my ingredients.
6 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp za’atar (I used the mystery mixed Italian herbs, but za’atar is available from Seasoned Pioneers. )
I have tried many recipes for ratatouille, this is the best. I think I got it off the internet, with a promise that this was the most authentic.
1 aubergine, diced
4 courgettes, halved and sliced
300g french beans, cut to 1 inch lengths
4 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup of chopped fennel leaves
fresh basil leaves, torn
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Salt the diced aubergines and courgettes and set aside. Rinse the salt off after 20 minutes (I do this in a colander)
Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft.
Add the aubergines and courgettes, and cook for another five minutes or so.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes, and then with the lid off for 20 minutes. Keep a close eye and stir occasionally, to stop the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.
This freezes OK, but it is best reheated the day after making it.
This sauce is good mixed with small pasta, or layered with lasagne and a bechamel sauce and baked. In fact, I bet you could mix it with small pasta and bake it. I have tried it two ways, once using some mystery chilli and herb seasoning that a relative bought back from Italy for me. I made a small quantity suitable for two or three people, so double this would be a really good lot of sauce sufficient to serve around six people.
Top tip discovered whilst doing this: One handful of small pasta weighs a good ounce. Three handfuls is one good-size portion of pasta. There are other versions of this classic sauce around: I found one in The Pasta Bible, and another on Allrecipes website
2 tsbs olive oil
1 clove of garlic
A handful of fresh parsley (I used fresh flat-leaf parsley from the garden)
1 medium aubergine, diced
1/2 handful fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp ground chilli (or use a small fresh chilli and add it with the garlic)
1/2 cup of boiling water
Pinch of saffron
1/2 tsp marigold stock powder
1 tin chopped organic tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
(If you are using the mystery Italian seasoning from the holiday pack of pasta, use this in place of the parsley, chilli, basil and paprika, and add with the aubergines: I would suggests a heaped teaspoonful)
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and add the garlic and parsley.
Turn the heat to very low, squish the garlic with a wooden spoon, then cover and cook for about 10 minutes while you chop the aubergine. I got nervous about this, it seemed a long time, so I checked every so often, and took it off the heat once the garlic looked cooked.
If you used a small whole fresh chilli, remove this now. Add the aubergines, chilli powder, basil, half the water, and cover to simmer for another 10 minutes.
I put the marigold stock powder into the remaining hot water, along with the saffron and sugar and allowed this to infuse.
After the 10 minutes is up, add the water, saffron, sugar, stock powder, wine and tomatoes, along with the paprika. Season to taste, cover and settle it to simmer for another 30 minutes.
Once the sauce is cooked, put it somewhere safe, boil up the pasta of your choice, drain and then stir in the sauce.
If you are using this for a baked pasta dish, stir in the cooked pasta, put it into an ovenproof dish, top with mozzarella, and bake for 20 minutes in a hot oven.