It’s the most marvelous thing to read recipes from a place you have just travelled to and then seeing them in context for the first time. It’s literally like a veil is lifted and you can visualise the origins of the ingredients and the environment. I’m experiencing that with Ottolenghi’s book ‘Jerusalem’ at the moment and I feel like making everything in this gorgeous cookbook now.
This recipe for chermoula aubergines with bulgar and yoghurt caught my attention. I adore all the ingredients here and reading through the list I realised I had them all except for the mint *note to self, start growing mint*, so it was a sign. A sign that I’m firmly locked onto the Middle Eastern flavour vibes.
The bulgar wheat salad with parsley, mint, green olives, spring onions and toasted almonds is so delicious you could easily make this as a side dish on its own. Piled on top of the roasted spicy aubergines, turns this into a more robust meal.
The chermoula is more about spicy flavour than heat, although you will find a bit of that. It has such huge depth with the preserved lemons giving it the magical fragrant touch. I always have preserved lemons on hand as they are the easiest thing to make. It’s literally lemons and salt and the odd aromatic if you so desire. They take time to really develop, and I love them when they have been preserving for a few years. I also see I have never written a blog recipe about them which is a pity because this is a staple in my house.
~ Cooks Notes: I adapted the recipe slightly by leaving out the 50gms of sultanas as I was trying to avoid the sweetness, but It would be lovely with them added too. I also reduced the oil content from 140ml to 125 (1/2 a cup) as I felt that it was more than enough to make a nice chermoula paste which was runny enough to drip into the crevasses of the scored aubergine flesh. This recipe might seem to contain a lot of ingredients but it’s really so easy to make. I used 3 smallish aubergines vs 2 medium in the recipe and because this is fairly rich. I think using smaller is better. So this would serve 6 people as a side dish. Use bigger aubergines if you want this as a main.
Recipe – adapted slightly from Ottolenghi, Jerusalem
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin
- 125ml olive oil (half a cup) and a little extra for drizzling
- 2 – 3 medium aubergines
- 150g bulgar wheat
- 10gm fresh coriander, chopped plus a few extra leaves to serve
- 10gm fresh mint, chopped
- 50gm pitted green olives, chopped or halved
- 30g flaked almonds, toasted
- 3 spring onions chopped (white and green part)
- 11/2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 120gm Greek yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 200C / 18)c fan – 350 F
First make the chermoula by mixing together the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon and 2/3 of the olive oil along with half a teaspoon of salt.
Cut the aubergines lengthways keeping the stalk attached. Cut a criss-ross pattern down the length of the flesh ensuring you don’t pierce the skin, and place this on a baking tray facing up. Spread the chermoula evenly across all aubergines and roast in the oven for 40 minutes until they are soft. If you are using smaller ones, around 35 minutes will do the trick.
While the aubergines are roasting, place the bulgar in a bowl and cover with 140ml boiling water and leave to stand for about 10 minutes to soak up the liquid. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the yoghurt and season with salt to taste. Fluff up the grains with a fork.
Serve the aubergines on a platter with the bulgar wheat salad piled on top and the yoghurt drizzled over. Sprinkle some more olive oil and scatter a few fresh coriander leaves as garnish. *leave out the yoghurt to make thise vegan
It’s a beautiful delicious mess.
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