Yotam Ottolenghi's Burnt Aubergine with Tahini

This Middle Eastern-style dip from Ottolenghi is packed with complex flavour. Made with burnt aubergine, pomegranate molasses, and tahini, it's a punchy and refreshing summer snack.

Introduction

This can be a potent dip or condiment that you can serve with raw vegetables or to accompany lamb or fish. Or, with the optional chunks of cucumber and tomato, it can be a gloriously refreshing summer salad that exudes Middle Eastern aromas. You choose.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 large aubergine
70g tahini paste
60ml water
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp chopped parsley
3 mini cucumbers (180g in total, optional)
90g cherry tomatoes (optional)
seeds from ½ large pomegranate (90g)
a little olive oil to finish
salt and black pepper

Instructions

First, burn the aubergine. To do this on a gas hob, which is the most effective way, start by lining the area around the hob heads with foil to protect them. Put the aubergines directly on two moderate flames and roast for 12–15 minutes, turning frequently with metal tongs, until the flesh is soft and smoky and the skin is burnt all over. Keep an eye on them the whole time so they don’t catch fire. For an electric cooker, pierce the aubergines with a sharp knife in a few places. Put them on a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot grill for 1 hour, turning them a few times. The aubergines need to deflate completely and their skin should burn and break. When cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh into a colander, avoiding the blackened skin. Leave to drain for at least 30 minutes.

Chop the aubergine flesh roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the tahini, water, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and some salt and pepper; mix well with a whisk. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more garlic, lemon juice or molasses if needed. You want the salad to have a robust sour/slightly sweet flavour.

If you want to add cucumber and tomatoes, cut the cucumbers lengthways in half and then each half lengthways in two. Cut each quarter into 1cm long pieces. Halve the tomatoes. Stir them and the cucumber into the aubergine mix.

To serve, spread over a shallow dish, scatter the pomegranate seeds on top and drizzle with oil.

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