Chermoula Aubergine with Quinoa (Lemony or Kisir)
I absolutely love aubergines. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before. Their flesh has an almost potato like texture, which is pleasant since I no longer eat normal potatoes because of the starch and its effect on insulin levels, and they soak up so much flavour. I never seem to gain weight when I eat them, something a friend of mine was discussing with me after I passed on my aubergine bug to him.
Oh before I post it, I must add, Ottolenghi’s directions for roasting aubergines always seem to be written with non-fan ovens in mind. If you have a fan oven, you only need to put the aubergines in at about 180 degrees and for half an hour, rather than the 40 minutes he states, otherwise they’ll end up charred and acrid.
So I made this meal in the festive season between Christmas and New Year. It is perhaps the most popular dish of increasingly reknowned chef Yotam Ottolengh’s, judging from the ‘buzz’ being created by it online.
Here is the main recipe, which I changed and supplemented to make more suitable for a gluten-free vegan PCOS diet:
Served separately, both the aubergine and the bulgar salad from this dish are delicious with the accompanying Greek yoghurt, but all three together are a match made in food heaven. Chermoula is a potent North African spice paste that is ideal for smearing on your favourite vegetables for roasting. Serves four as a main course.
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin make at least a night in advance
140ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 medium aubergines
150g quinoa or – choose this lemony quinoa recipe or Ottolenghi’s Kisir substituting the bulgar wheat with quinoa and adding more water than stated
10g fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra to finish
10g fresh mint, chopped
50g green olives, halved
30g flaked almonds, toasted
3 spring onions, chopped
1½ tbsp lemon juice
120g Greek yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. To make the chermoula, mix together the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon, two-thirds of the olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt.
Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and score the flesh of each half with diagonal, crisscross lines, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place on a baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are very soft.
Meanwhile, place the bulgar in a large bowl and cover with 140ml boiling water. Soak the sultanas in 50ml of warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and add to the bulgar, along with the remaining oil. Stir in the herbs, olives, almonds, spring onions, lemon juice and salt, taste and add more salt, if necessary.
Serve the aubergines warm or at room temperature. Place one half-aubergine per portion on a serving plate, spoon bulgar on top, allowing some to fall over the sides, spoon over a little yoghurt, sprinkle with chopped coriander and finish with a dribble of olive oil. – The Guardian Newspaper
What I do is then add the ingredients he adds to the bulgar wheat, to add even more flavour.
So, yes, it’s quite an undertaking, cooking all this in its entirity, however it is very much how I imagine the food of gods must taste.