This dish is the ultimate side-dish for any meal with Mediterranean vibe. It practically screams “serve me with fish!”. I also think this works wonderfully as a lunch; the meaty and spicy aubergine, the fresh salad and cool yogurt work beautifully together and it’s a cinch to prepare. Have a go and you’ll be very impressed with yourself.
Mad props to Ottolenghi (again) for inventing this one, although I’ve changed the recipe slightly from its original. FYI, Ottolenghi says: “Chermoula is a potent North African spice paste that is ideal for smearing on your favourite vegetables for roasting.” Just incase you were wondering…
What you’ll need:
- A few beautiful medium-sized aubergines
- About half a cup of couscous or bulgur wheat (you can also use quinoa for this dish, but obviously you cook it differently than couscous and bulgur)
- A few handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley and fresh mint, roughly chopped
- A few spring onions, chopped
- About 1/4 up slivered almonds
- A few tablespoons of plain greek yogurt
- For the chermoula: 2 cloves of garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, chilli flakes, sweet paprika, olive oil and a tiny squeeze of tomato paste (if you’ve got some handy).
- Lemon juice
- A sprinkling of dried cranberries
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180/350.
First make the chermoula by mixing together about 5tbsp of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, the cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. (portions, use your instincts, but maybe 1-2 tsp of each spice but only about half a tsp of salt.) Crush the garlic cloves and add them as well along with a small squeeze of tomato paste. (The original recipe doesn’t call for tomato paste but I like the tanginess of it and it helps the chermoula to form a paste-like consistency which is good for spreading.)
Next, cover the couscous or bulgur with boiling water and seal, allowing the water to hydrate the grains and cooking it.
Slice your aubergines in half and score the flesh in a criss-cross making them look extremely beautiful. Like this:
Using a glazing brush (or a spoon if you don’t have one) spread the chermoula all over the flesh of the aubergines, as evenly as possible.
Place the chermoula coated aubergine, flesh side up on a lined baking tray, and roast in the oven for about 4o minutes or so, checking on it frequently to make sure they don’t get too dark or shrivelled.
While the aubergines are in the oven, make a little salad by combining the couscous/bulgur, the chopped herbs and spring onions, lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Season this salad very lightly so that the freshness isn’t overpowered.
When the aubergines are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool down a bit.
Spoon the little salad over the cooled off aubergine and finish off with a sprinkling of dried cranberries, and a dollop of yogurt (see pic above).