This is the essence of our food, distilled into a single dish. It is inspired by the first whole burnt aubergine we ever ate, served with a smattering of grated tomato, at a very famous Jerusalem establishment we both love. It has since become a staple at every BBQ, and in our restaurant Honey & Smoke. Burning the eggplant/aubergine really brings out the best in this slightly bland vegetable. Don’t hold back – by the time you’re done, the skin should be blackened and the flesh so soft it can easily be scooped out with a spoon.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
For the eggplant
- 2 aubergines/eggplant
- 50g/1¾ oz tahini paste (about 3 tablespoons)
- 50ml/1¾ fl oz ice-cold water (about 3 tablespoons)
- 2 egg yolks from beautiful eggs
For the sauce
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (about 10g/⅓ oz)
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (about 10g/⅓ oz)
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 20g/¾ oz)
- Juice of 1–2 lemons (about 80ml/2¾ fl oz)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch parsley, leaves picked and chopped (about 30g/1 oz)
1. Place the whole aubergines/eggplants on a very hot grill, or directly on the embers if you prefer. Let them scorch all over, turning occasionally, until the skin is charred and the flesh is so soft that it seems they are going to collapse.
2. While the aubergines are cooking, combine red and green chillies, garlic, lemon, salt, cumin, sugar and oil. Separately mix the tahini paste with the water to form a thick whipped cream consistency.
3. Once the aubergines are fully blackened, remove from the grill onto serving plates and slit open to reveal the flesh.
4. Add the parsley to the dressing and mix well. Use half the dressing to douse the flesh of the slit aubergines, then top with the whipped tahini. Use the back of a spoon to create a little well in the tahini and place a raw egg yolk in the centre of each one. Using tongs, carefully remove a hot charcoal from the fire and lightly char the top of each yolk. Return the coal to the fire and drizzle the remaining dressing over the aubergines before serving.
To cook without a BBQ
Cook the aubergines on your highest grill setting or in a super- hot oven at 240°C (450°F)/220°C(430°F) fan/gas mark 9, remembering to pierce them with a fork beforehand, as they have a tendency to explode. Scorch one side, then rotate and char the next section until the flesh of the aubergine is completely soft. Use a blow torch to scorch the surface of the egg yolk, or simply heat the back of a spoon over a flame and use that instead.
Extract credit to Honey & Co. Chasing Smoke: Cooking over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich, published by Pavilion Books.
Image credit © Patricia Niven