This is possibly my favourite cookbook. I can trace my love affair with Middle Eastern food to 1996 when my Lebanese boss took me to one of his favourite Lebanese restaurants in Shepherds Market, London. I can still remember the creamy hummus topped with melt in the mouth lamb and golden pine nuts. It was the beginning. This cookbook is a wonderful addition to any kitchen.
The Chermoula Aubergine with Bulgar & Yoghurt is one of my favourite recipes from the book. It makes a wonderful side dish to some simply grilled chicken or fish, or if you feel like staying with a more Middle Eastern feel, some grilled lamb fillet rubbed with olive oil, ras-el-hanout and a sprinkling of sea salt. Happy eating!
Chermoula Aubergine with Bulgar & Yoghurt
Recipe adapted from Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon
140ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 medium aubergines
150g fine bulgar (or couscous)
10g fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra to finish
10g fresh mint, chopped
50g pitted green olives, halved
30g flaked almonds, toasted
3 spring onions, chopped
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
120g Greek yoghurt
Preheat oven to 200c/180c Fan.
Start by making the chermoula. Combine the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon, two thirds of the olive oil and ½ a teaspoon of salt.
Next, cut the aubergines in half lengthways and cut the flesh in criss-cross scores. You need to make these quite deep so that the flavour of the chermoula can soak in, but make sure you don’t go all the way through and pierce the skin. Spread the chermoula over each aubergine half and place on a baking sheet cut-side up. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are completely soft and they have darkened.
The original recipe calls for bulgar (which you cook by placing in a large bowl and covering with 140ml of boiling water). However, I usually make this with couscous. Cook your couscous according to the packet instructions. If you are using couscous, you can place the sultanas with the couscous when cooking so that they soften. If not, then soak the sultanas in 50ml of warm water and after 10 minutes drain the sultanas and add to the bulgar.
To the couscous, add the remaining olive oil, herbs, olives, almonds, spring onion, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Serve the aubergines warm or at room temperature with the couscous on top. Spoon over some yoghurt, sprinkle with chopped coriander and finish with a drizzle of oil.
Photography, Alan Lim Studio