This Turkish dish literally translates as “the Imam fainted”—such is the sheer joy that it was said to elicit.

It’s easy to see why, particularly at this time of year, when bulbous aubergines are at their best and the silkysoft flesh tastes so decadent. Traditional recipes scoop out the cooked aubergine flesh and restuff the skins, but I find it less fiddly to stack everything on top of each other. It’s a great vegetarian dish to have up your sleeve, and will have meat-eaters salivating too.

 

Ingredients

• 2 aubergines

• 4tbsp olive oil

• 2–3 garlic cloves, crushed

• 1tsp paprika

• 1tsp ground cumin

• 400g chopped tomatoes

• 1tsp dried oregano

• 1tsp sugar

• ½tsp salt

• 3-4tbsp plain yoghurt

• 2tbsp parsley, sliced

• 1 can chickpeas (optional)

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. Halve the aubergines lengthways, cutting through the stalk and leaving it attached. Use the tip of a sharp knife to score a criss-cross pattern across the flat surface of the aubergine—this will help the heat penetrate the thickest part of the flesh. Drizzle half the olive oil (2tbsp) over the aubergine and season with salt. Roast for 20–25 minutes in the hottest part of the oven, until the skin has darkened and the flesh is soft and collapsing.

3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan. Keep back ½tsp of the crushed garlic, and cook the rest of it in the oil— on a gentle heat, so it’s aromatic but not coloured. Stir in the paprika and cumin, and add the tin of tomatoes, oregano, sugar and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer, and leave it to reduce—with the lid off—while the aubergines are cooking. The finished sauce should be dark red, without any residual moisture. (You can add the can of chickpeas here if you like, to bulk it out.)

4. In a small dish, mix the remaining garlic with the yogurt, and season with salt and pepper.

5. Arrange the two aubergine halves on each plate, and spoon the spiced tomato sauce over them. Top with garlicyogurt, and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

 

Tip: These portions are perfect for a light lunch. Serve as part of a mezze for a more substantial meal—along with pitta bread, tabbouleh and perhaps some falafel or halloumi.

 

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