Thank goodness and everything or anyone you and I might believe in, Christmas came and went without a hitch. I promised myself I wouldn’t worry too much about it but in reality J and I spent the best part of the week before feeling sick about the whole thing. At one point I even thought I had some sort of stomach ulcer. Part of it was my fault I’m sure – but looking back I cannot see what was all the fuss about the cooking, since I spent two days prepping everything beforehand. But you see, it was not all about the cooking. Anyhoooo, everything turned out just fine.
I was totally in control on the day though and this was partly due to the help given by Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana. I had so much fun in the kitchen, cooking, taking pictures and doing some tweeting. I made a variation of the recipe as a side dish to serve with a roast pork loin, together with other veg. It was a hit. I made it once before for a trial run and served it simply with rice, which worked wonderfully well. Since then it became a favourite. This is it with how I changed it (albeit slightly) to cater for what I had in my pantry at the time.
- glug of olive oil
- 2 aubergines, cut into bite-sized cubes
- 2 red onions, roughly sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed or very thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
- handful of sultanas
- 1 large can of chopped tomatoes
- 200ml water
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 heaped tablespoon light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons runny honey
In a large pan, heat the olive oil and tip in the aubergines. Gently fry them until they turn golden brown. Season with some salt to draw some of their water out half way through the cooking. Take them out of the pan onto a warm dish and set aside until needed later.
Using the same pan, turn the heat to a low setting and add the sliced onions. Cook them until caramelized, stirring occasionally, making sure they don’t blacken. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and paprika and give the onions a little stir. Add the red pepper and cook until it turns a little soft.
Add the sultanas, tomatoes, water, vinegar, sugar and honey. Mix everything well and let it come to a simmer. At this point, reintroduce the aubergine into the pan and continue to cook until softened. Switch the heat off and let it sit on the hob to cool and to let the flavours mesh together.
This dish is best prepared a day or two before you want to eat it. Like a stew, it will taste even better.
(This recipe was slightly adapted from Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East and Beyond, Mitchell Beazley, 2014.)