Tag Archives: aubergine

Recipe: Five Veg Chilli


In the summer I ate at the Grain Store near Kings Cross. When it opened it got a lot of plaudits for giving vegetables the same weight as meat on its menu. To read some reviewers, you’d think it was ushering a whole new era of vegetable-centred food. *Looks around* Yeah, that so worked! Anyway, they do have a higher than normal number of veggie options on the menu and when I was there I had the Chilli con Veggie. I was impressed because they produced a thick, satisfying chilli with no use of meat substitutes, just vegetables.

I didn’t really have a clue how to emulate this until I watched a TV series Kew on a Plate where Raymond Blanc cooked the produce of a splendid kitchen garden. He produced a chilli that was pretty much made up entirely of grated vegetables. Now I knew what to do.

This is great. It is everything I wanted it to be – hearty, satisfying and with no fake meats in sight. I suspect it will do a lot towards your five-a-day within one serving.

 photo IMG_0413_zpsqqopnl3a.jpg

200g dry kidney beans
1 onion
2 medium carrots
1/2 large fennel bulb
1 red pepper
3 stalks celery
1 small aubergine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp marmite
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Soak the dry kidney beans overnight.
Drain, and add to a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender.
When cooked, drain but reserve the cooking liquid.

Grate the onion, carrots, fennel, pepper, celery and aubergine.
Heat a little oil in a large saucepan.
Add the garlic and chilli and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the grated vegetables to the pan and stir.
Cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes.
Add the cooked kidney beans.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fill the empty tin with the juices from the cooked beans and add to the pan.
Add the tomato puree, marmite, mushroom ketchup, ground cumin, smoked paprika, chilli flakes and the cocoa powder.
Stir thoroughly, bring up to the simmering point and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Check for seasoning.
Serve with a sprinkle of coriander leaves over the top.
This goes well with rice or crusty bread.

Serves 4 hearty appetites

Recipe: Pasta with Roast Vegetable Sauce


This is a great vegetable-packed pasta sauce that doesn’t feel like you’re eating a lot of vegetables in it. It has a deep flavour (aided by the balsamic vinegar), but the effort required is minimal. You could even roast the vegetables the night before and then this is a quick pasta sauce that can cook while the pasta is boiling.

Roast Vegetable Sauce photo DSCN1642_zpsadbab607.jpg

1 aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
1 pepper, cut into 2cm dice
1 courgette, cut into 2cm dice
6 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Spread out the aubergine, pepper and courgette over one or two baking trays.
Toss the vegetables in the olive oil until they are all coated.
Season with salt and black pepper.
Wrap the garlic cloves in a square of kitchen foil and put on one of the trays.
Cook the vegetables for about 30-40 minutes.
Once the vegetables are cooked, scrape them into a saucepan.
Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves into the pan.
Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of the basil leaves.
Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Serve with pasta, with the remaining basil leaves sprinkled over the top.

Serves 4

Recipe: Aubergines with a Ginger, Tamarind and Mango Sauce


This is another recipe from the Veggiestan recipe book. I made it, principally, because I had all the ingredients to hand, and I’m very glad I did. The star is the sauce, which is spicey, sour, sweet, tangy and fruity. It’s a perfect match for the soft and (at least when I make them) slightly crispy aubergine slices. However the sauce could be used with a whole range of other vegetables and once you’ve had it, you’ll be looking at the fridge wondering what else you’ve got in. It would also be an awesome dip. It’s just as well that this recipe makes enough for seconds!

I’ve stuck with tamarind paste, which you can find in most supermarkets ‘exotic ingredients’ section. If you don’t have it to hand then lime or lemon juice would work as well.

Aubergine with Ginger, Tamarind & Mango photo Auberginewithgingertamarindampmango_zpsc9719435.jpg

1 aubergine, sliced into 1cm rounds
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp allspice powder
1/2 tsp sugar
75-100 ml water
1/2 fresh mango, chopped

Heat some oil in a large frying pan and cook the aubergine slices until they are golden brown. This may take two batches.
While the aubergine is cooking, heat some oil in another pan and add the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger.
Sweat until the onion is translucent then add the allspice.
Stir and cook through for a minute before adding the tamarind paste, the sugar and the water.
Simmer for five minutes.
Season with salt.
Add the sauce ingredients to a blender and add the mango. Blend to a smooth paste.
Arrange the cooked aubergine slices on a serving dish and spoon the sauce over them.
Serves 2 as a side dish – with sauce left over

Recipe: Ratatouille


I’m under the weather at the moment and sorely in need of comfort food. Pasta and various toppings has been OK, but I had an urge the other night for ratatouille and baked potato.

I think I’ve spent 20-whatever years searching for the perfect ratatouille recipe. On the face of it, it should be simple – it’s a vegetable stew, after all. But it’s dead easy for it to tip over from perfect texture to mushy mess.

I used to bung everything in together and let it cook, but that’s a sure-fire route to crunchy courgette, leathery aubergine and soggy onion. I then tried a suggestion from one of the TV chefs (forget which one), where all the ingredients are cooked separately and then mixed together with the tomato for the final few minutes. Sod that for a game of soldiers – all it produced was a mountain of washing up and a bland dish, as the flavours never seemed to meld. And I think it’s St Delia who has a baked ratatouille – it’s OK, but, but … This is a stew we’re talking about.

So now I fry the aubergine, courgettes and peppers together for about 15 minutes, then add the onions, garlic and tomatoes, and cook on a low heat for 30-40 minutes. Trial and error has discovered that a blander oil is best. I’d usually use olive oil for everything, but it tends to overpower the vegetables. Sunflower oil is fine.

I add the seasoning at the end and then allow it all to stand for 15-20 minutes. This is a dish that I prefer not to be piping hot. In fact, it’s as good cold the next day (although it re-heats fine) piled on a baked potato, or served with good crusty bread to mop up the tasty juices.


1 aubergine (I salt it, leave it for about 30 mins and then rinse off the juices. A load of the chefs say you don’t need to. I think it makes a difference, so humour me)
2 medium courgettes
2 peppers (I prefer one red and one yellow for added colour, but this time I had two green peppers, so waste not, want not won over. And 20 years ago, green peppers was the default option!)
1 large onion (red or white)
2 large cloves of garlic
Sunflower oil
Tin of chopped tomatoes or jar of passata
Mixed herbs
Sea salt
Black pepper
Brown sugar

Chop the aubergine, courgette and peppers into bite-sized chunks or slices, as takes your fancy. I tend to cube the aubergine, do slices of courgette and strips of pepper for variety. Fry on a medium heat for 15 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic and tomatoes/passata and mix thoroughly. Cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes and then check whether the vegetables are done. I prefer stuff under-cooked, but you might want to give it an extra few minutes if you like your vegetables less crunchy.

Add a generous shake of mixed herbs, sea salt and black pepper. I also add a teaspoon of brown sugar which, I think, reduces the acidity in the tomatoes. If you don’t like using dried herbs (and I think they’re fine here), experiment with whichever fresh ones you prefer. But this is a rustic dish and it needs strong seasoning.

I then take the pan off the heat, cover it and leave it for about 15 minutes. I think you get a better idea of the flavours when this dish isn’t super-duper hot.

If you eat cheese, some grated cheddar on the top is good. Otherwise, parsley or basil is good for a garnish. Serve with baked potato or crusty bread.

Serves 3 – 4.

Recipe: Baba Ganoush


I love hummus. I think that over the average year I must eat my bodyweight in it. I think I certainly do that by volume anyway. That puts me in line with a staggering 41% of Brits who have a pot of hummus in their fridge. So I’m a confirmed hummus addict.

But every so often I want to ring the changes a bit. And when I do, I often find myself making baba ganoush. It has the same flavourings as hummus (garlic, lemon and tahini) but is based around roasted aubergines rather than chickpeas. This makes it lighter and looser in texture with a slight smokey edge from the aubergines. It’s a definite dip rather than a spread. Most recipes I’ve seen use chopped parsley as a garnish. I prefer smoked paprika to enhance the smokey taste of the aubergines.

It’s a lovely dip to have with toasted pitta bread. It’s simple to make and I urge you to give it a try.

Baba Ganoush photo DSCN0886_zpsf7382b2d.jpg

2 aubergines
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp tahini paste
2-3 tbsp olive oil
smoked paprika for sprinkling

Roast the aubergines in an oven preheated to 200C for 30-40 minutes, until the skin is crackling and they feel soft to touch.
When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, split them open and scoop out the flesh into a food processor.
Add the lemon juice, garlic cloves, tahini paste and season with salt and pepper.
Blitz in the processor and add the olive oil. Depending on the water content of the aubergines you may need two or three tablespoon to achieve the right consistency.
When it is nicely smooth, spoon into a serving dish.
Serve with a sprinkling of smoked paprika and something tasty to scoop it up with!

Recipe: Pickled Aubergine Salad


One of the first restaurant reviews I did for this blog was Bangalore Express at Waterloo. One of the highlights of that visit was their Pickled Aubergine Salad. I’ve been back many times since then and that salad has always been one of the selections.

I went back last week to find that they have changed the menu. And, horror of horrors, the pickled aubergine salad has gone!


But did I panic? I did not. I Googled. And lo and behold! I found a recipe for it online.

I don’t think this is quite the same as the restaurant version, but it is just as silky, gently spiced and much less oily!

Pickled aubergine salad

1 aubergine, cut into 3cm long, thinnish strips
1 red onions
1 small tin chopped tomatoes
2cm fresh ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp nigella seeds
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder

Put the sliced aubergine in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 30 minutes for water to drain out.
Blend the onions, tomatoes and ginger until you have a smooth paste.
When the aubergines have drained, rinse them with water.
Fry the aubergines in about 3 tbsp of vegetable oil until softened and golden brown.
Put them back in the colander and let the excess oil drain off them.
Heat a small amount of oil in the pan and add the fennel and nigella seeds.
When the seeds pop add the tomato and onion paste to the pan.
Stir and add the rest of the spices.
Simmer this for 5 minutes until it is thickened.
Add the aubergines and fold them in carefully, trying not to break them up too much.
Cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 10-15 minutes.
Check that the aubergine is meltingly tender.
Season with salt.
Turn the heat off, put the lid back on the pan and let it cool to room temperature.
Serve with chopped fresh coriander as a garnish.