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I have always loved middle eastern cuisine and ever since I went to an Ottolenghi restaurant in London, with my daughter, many years ago, I am a huge fan of his recipes. Recently, I invited our new neighbours over for dinner and decided on a middle eastern theme for the meal. I made assorted meze to start with pita then followed with a 5 hour lamb and several sides. One of the most popular, by far, was the aubergine with saffron yoghurt. It is such an easy recipe yet never fails to impress, in part, due to the amazing flavours but also, because it is visually a superb feast for the eyes with its jewel toned colours. Below is my adaptation of the recipe. The saffron sauce is great with just about anything, from fish to meat to veggies so do not hesitate to double the quantity. It will keep 3 days in the fridge – if you can resist eating it all at once.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium aubergines
  • 1 Tsp olive oil
  • 2 Tsp grilled pine nuts
  • 4 Tsp fresh pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Saffron yoghurt
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 Tsp hot water
  • 200g / 3/4 cup Greek yoghurt
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tsp olive oil (optional)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 220C / 430F
  • Cut the aubergine into slices about 1 1/2 cm thick then cut each slice into 3 or 4 strips
  • Place the aubergine in a large bowl, add the oil, salt and pepper and toss gently to ensure evenly coated
  • Lay the pieces onto a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes until they are a nice golden colour
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool
  • While the aubergine is cooking, make the sauce/dressing
  • Allow the saffron to infuse in the hot water for a few minutes
  • In a bowl, combine the saffron infusion with the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil (if using) and add salt to taste (I did not add oil nor salt)
  • Whisk the sauce by hand or ideally use a hand blender until it is smooth
  • Keep the sauce in the fridge until ready to use
  • Place the cooled aubergine strips in a serving dish, drizzle over the saffron sauce, sprinkle with the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds
  • Add the fresh basil and serve immediately

Bon Appetit!