Epic Smoky Aubergine with Sumac, Preserved Lemon & Chilli Paste
A smoky, rustic, super creamy aubergine mash that is loaded with flavour and just the right amount of heat. This is a showstopper.
Inspired by Levantine flavours, it packs some of my favourite ingredients - aubergines, lemons, olive oil, chillies - ingredients that are very common in Sicily as well, but we would not necessarily put together in this form.
The recipe is quite easy, though I went the extra mile by preparing the preserved lemon paste and chilli paste from scratch. You can of course use store-bought ingredients for a quicker turnaround.
Ingredients (for 2)
1 large aubergine
2 tsp preserved lemon paste (recipe below)
1 tsp red chilli paste (below)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large tsp sumac
Fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
Salt to taste
Start by roasting the aubergine. Roasting them brings out a whole new dimension to this wonderful vegetable and I recommend, if you can, to do this on a stove flame directly.
I prefer roasting aubergines on the gas stove or grill. Roasting on an open flame imparts a delicate smoky flavour into the aubergine flesh. If you do not have a gas stove, you can also roast it in the oven.
Wash and dry the aubergine. Pierce it a few times with a fork so the steam will be able to escape while roasting. If you have a gas range, you can roast it directly on top of the range. The aubergine will release a lot of moisture as it roasts, so consider lining your gas hob with aluminium foil for easy cleanup.
Place the aubergine directly on top of the flame, which I normally turn to high for this. Allow the aubergine to roast over the flame for 20-30 minutes, turning it by 90 degrees every 5 minutes as it cooks. The larger the eggplant, the longer it will take to roast. The skin should be fully blackened and come off easily and you should be able to stick a fork all the way through easily.
Place the aubergine in a metal or wooden bowl and cover with a kitchen towel of cling film to let it ’sweat’ for about 10 minutes. Drain the excess liquid and peel off the skin.
Chop or tear the flash to small pieces and arrange on a plate. Season with salt, sumac and a generous amount of olive oil.
Make the chilli paste. With this recipe, you’ll make a 140g jar chilli paste which will last in or outside the fridge for several days.
Place 80g of fresh red chillies in a blender and add 40g of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp vinegar a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Blend to a paste. Add 1 tsp to the aubergines and store the rest in a glass jar.
Make the lemon paste. Trim the end of 1 lemon and cut into thin slices. Transfer to a small pan along with the juice of the other lemon and 1/3 tsp salt. Simmer until the lemon slices become translucent, then blend to a paste. Transfer to a small jar and cover with a drizzle of olive oil to preserve it. Add 2 tsp of this to the aubergines and transfer the rest to the fridge, where it will only last for a couple of days.
Garnish the aubergine with chopped parsley and serve cold.