Walking today in the woods, the first fallen leaves rustling underfoot, made me long for a fire – and a taste of this slightly smoky dip taken, of course, from Yashim’s new cook book. Aubergine (or eggplant) puree
A classic Ottoman meze, absolutely worth doing whenever you fire up a charcoal grill. Unlike the real thing, ‘poor man’s meat’ is very forgiving on the grill, so you can start the aubergines off as soon as the coals get hot. The flame gives the finished puree an irresistible smoky taste. Don’t forget the humble home fire, either. If you are burning wood in your fireplace, or maybe a woodburner, use it: an aubergine takes only a few minutes to cook.
aubergines (eggplant) 2
garlic 2 cloves, crushed and chopped
olive oil 2 tbsps
juice of 1 lemon
plain yoghurt 225g/8oz
If you can rotate the aubergines over charcoal, so much the better: char the skins and pop the aubergines into a plastic bag when the flesh is pulpy. Otherwise, burn the skins on the gas or prick the aubergines with a fork, wrap them in foil and cook for at least half an hour in the hottest oven.
Hold the aubergine by the stalk and peel away the skin. Scrape the flesh away with a spoon. Drop the flesh into a colander, and squeeze it gently to get rid of some of the water.
Put the aubergines on a board and chop them to a pulp, while they continue to drain. Sweep them into a bowl, and mix in the garlic, the oil and the lemon juice. When they are well mixed, add the yoghurt, a pinch of salt and a twist of pepper and beat again. Check for seasoning.
Serve the puree with a drizzle of olive oil and wedges of lemon, to eat on crusty bread.
Everything connects, of course, and given centuries of war and exchange between Russia and the Ottoman Empire it should come as no surprise that the Russians, substituting sauteed onion and tomato for the yoghurt, wisely adopted this as their ‘poor man’s caviar’. Versions of both are very popular across the Caucasus.
This is just one of dozens of the recipes from Yashim Cooks Istanbul, out in the UK on Thursday October 27th and in the USA on November 15th. Signed copies are available, postage free anywhere in the world. Just click on this link: http://bit.ly/2c7fkIU