Chermoula Aubergine with Bulgar and Yoghurt
Historically, bulgar was generally the rural people’s food in the Middle East, while rice was for more affluent city folk. Still, bulgar — boiled wheat that has been dried and cracked or ground — was staple to many Palestinians. Today, this differentiation is less relevant, with bulgar gaining popularity with everybody, particularly for salads and mezzes.
Chermoula is a powerful North African paste that is brushed over fish and vegetables giving them the perfumed aroma of perserved lemon, mixed with heat and spice. Here, the aubergines flavoured with chermoula, drizzled with cold yoghurt, make a luscious way to start any meal. Combine it with the sweet and salty bulgar salad and you have a modest vegetarian feast.
|2||garlic cloves, crushed|
|2 tsp||ground cumin|
|2 tsp||ground coriander|
|1 tsp||chilli flakes|
|1 tsp||sweet paprika|
|2 tbsp||finely chopped preserved lemon skin|
|140ml||olive oil, plus extra to finish|
|10g||fresh coriander, chopped, plus extra to finish|
|10g||fresh mint, chopped|
|50g||pitted green olives, halved|
|30g||flaked almonds, toasted|
|3||spring onions, chopped|
|1½ tbsp||lemon juice|
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC Fan/Gas Mark 6.
To make the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon, two thirds of the olive oil and ½ a teaspoon of salt.
Cut the aubergines in half lengthways. Score the flesh of each half with deep, diagonal criss-cross scores, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place on a baking sheet cut-side up. Put in the oven and roast for 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are completely soft.
Meanwhile, place the bulgar in a large bowl and cover with 140ml boiling water.
Soak the sultanas in 50ml of warm water. After 10 minutes drain the sultanas and add them to the bulgar, along with the remaining oil. Add the herbs, olives, almonds, spring onion, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Serve the aubergines warm or at room temperature. Place one half per portion on a serving plate. Spoon bulgar on top, allowing some to fall from both sides. Spoon over some yoghurt, sprinkle with chopped coriander and finish with a drizzle of oil.