Aubergines are yet another item on my ever growing list of "things i can't grow". I have tried, possibly only once, but my lack of success was so distinct that i totally gave up. I know someone nearby who manages to grow so many aubergines that she has surplus to give away (i was the happy recipient on one occasion), but she has a very fancy glasshouse with electricity and heat lamps and suchlike. My glasshouse is the most basic variety, which apparently is not sufficient to grow aubergines in my locality.
Aubergines not only taste good, they look amazing - there is something i find very appealing about their colour, shape and form. So when i called in to the Woodend Green Grocer the other day to buy cheap tomatoes for making sauce, i couldn't help but buy an unplanned for aubergine from their stack of beauties on display.
Although aubergines are visually extremely appealing, i'm have sometimes been at a loss as to what to do with them, but once i discovered Al Brown's recipe for Roasted Aubergine Sambal i am at a loss no longer. The recipe (in his book 'Go Fish') was actually part of an entire meal plan for "Trumpeter with Yellow Split Pea Dahl and Roasted Aubergine Sambal".
I have made all the components of this meal, but have never managed to have all the ingredients on hand to make the entire meal at once. I've made the Trumpeter with the Dahl (and also the roti, which he recommends to go with it), and i've made the roti, dahl and sambal on another occasion. All delicious and highly recommended. On this particular occasion i made the Sambal, and was planning to make the Roti and Dahl to go with it, but then we got invited out to a friend's for spaghetti bolognaise, so i took the Aubergine Sambal with us, and it made a very nice accompaniment to the spag bol. Thus i can recommend this as a recipe with many uses. I think it would also be a lovely dip for with crackers. If you ever find yourself with an aubergine on hand, give it a go! This last time i made it i did not have any fresh chillies, so just used dried chilli flakes, however fresh chillies are definitely better. And i was a little short on coriander - my coriander is growing very slowly at present and is still very small, so i was only willing to risk removing a few leaves from each plant. Oh, and i also didn't have any limes (i seldom do), so substituted lemon juice for the lime juice. Clearly you can play around a bit with the recipe, but i have to say that if you can stick to Al's recipe closely you will be very pleased with the results!
ROASTED AUBERGINE SAMBAL
From 'Go Fish' by Al Brown
1 kg aubergines
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
2 fresh chillies, finely chopped (seeds optional)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 cup plain natural yoghurt
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
Cut the aubergines in half lengthwise. Place in a roasting dish, skin side down. Brush the flesh with oil then sprinkle the turmeric and cumin over. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or so until the aubergines are golden brown and very soft. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Once cold, use a spoon to scoop the soft flesh from the skin. Roughly chop and place in a bowl. Add the chilli, red onion, yoghurt, lime juice and coriander leaves.
Stir to combine, taste and season with sea salt and black pepper. Refrigerate until required.