Up until recently aubergine hadn’t really registered on my radar. I think before this month I’d only ever used one once, as a layer in a vegetarian lasagne. However I am now developing rather a taste for them, they’re excellent flavour carriers (they are the sponge of the vegetable world) and, so long as they’re not cooked to death, have rather an interesting texture. This recipe takes inspiration from one on BBC Good Food, but adds a few ingredients to really liven it up.
A note on my measurements. I use specific measurements in recipes to make it as straightforward as possible, however I for one never actually measure 2 tbsp tomato purée, I just put in what looks “about right”. Please go with whatever seems reasonable to you – if you really like ginger, add more ginger, if you don’t like ‘hot’ food, use less chilli!
1 large aubergine, cut into 3 cm cubes
4 large old potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cm fresh root ginger, grated
handful curry leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220oC/425oF/gas mark 7. Put the potatoes onto boil – they’ll need about ten minutes, though check every so often to make sure they haven’t gone to mush as potatoes are extremely variable I find. Drain and set aside when soft.
In a large saucepan gently fry the onions in oil until starting to go translucent, add a little water whenever they start to stick. Add the garlic, turmeric, coriander, chilli powder, tomato purée, ginger and curry leaves and fry for a further 5 minutes. The turmeric will give the dish (and your cooking utensil!) a wonderful ochre hue. I think that’s possibly the first time I’ve ever used the word ‘ochre’ in a sentence. Blimey, I’ve just done it again! Continue to add water whenever it starts to burn/stick.
Set aside roughly a quarter of the onion mixture before adding the aubergine and frying off on a medium heat for a further 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas and reduce until ‘gloopy’ rather than runny. Pour the mixture into a large oven proof dish and top with the potatoes. Top with the onion mixture you set aside earlier – I smeared it all over to imbue (imbue! look at me and my fancy vocabulary today) the potatoes with the turmeric colour.
Bake in the oven for half an hour or until the top layer of potatoes is golden and crispy. No picture this time I am afraid!