Friday, 14 June 2013

Imam Bayildi - Beautiful Aubergine Goodness


A bit like a fragrant ratatouille, ace with lamb
The Boyfriend has been away quite a lot recently. Instead of lamenting his absence, and feeling lonely and sorry for myself, I've been stuffing my face with ALL the things he turns his nose up; principally, aubergines. How can you not love them? The meatiest of all the veg, the shiny, taught smooth dark skin that makes you HAVE to touch them, wow this is verging on sexual...anyway. Originally from Turkey, this particular recipe for Imam Bayildi comes all the way from Australia, written by (and these words may not all be mine) Michael Adams QC, the late Chief Magistrate of Victoria, escoffier extraordinaire, champion of soppy girlies, philosopher, lover of dogs and the occasional pussycat, piggy, chook, horse and pygmy cow, and one of my Dad's greatest mates ever who kept him on the straight and narrow. So now you know. So I had a couple of sexy aubergines lolling on my work surface and I cooked this: (As I am writing this in England, it seems only right to change eggplant to aubergine and cups into 'very rough, I'm sure it will be ok' metric measurements. Weird Aussies. 

Feeds about 4 as a side dish. Slice 2 aubergines in half lengthways and then into long slices about an inch squared and the length of the aubergine. Place in a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt, let it stand over a basin for at least 30 minutes to de-gorge the bitter juices. Rinse and pat dry with a clean tea-towel or kitchen roll.  Gently heat an indecent amount of olive oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the aubergines. Cook over medium to high heat until they brown, (they will initially take up a lot of oil but they will let it out again). Add the one large sliced onion and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes, then add two or three cloves of chopped garlic, and cook for further 2 minutes. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a squirt of tomato puree, juice of half a lemon, a cinnamon stick, two bay leaves and a generous tsp of dried oregano. Cover and reduce heat to a very slow simmer and cook for about 45 to 60 minutes or it's good in the oven too, although the pot will be a pain in the arse to wash up. This can be served hot, warm or at room temperature and is amaaazing with lamb. Just before serving, stir a good hand-full of chopped parsley. 

Michael has written some wonderful recipes, always with great charm. My favourite being his recipe for sweetcorn fritters, one part which read something like 'Whatever you do, don't fuck them up. If you do, give up cooking.' 

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