Seasonal local food recipe No.368 – Aubergine curry with chilli, tomato and kaffir lime leaves

This recipe is taken from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey.  If you miss out the shrimp paste, you have got a pleasing vegetarian curry. The kaffir lime leaves can also be replaced with grated lime zest.

Kecap manis is a thick, sweet Indonesian soy sauce which Rick Stein says is not interchangeable with ordinary soy sauce but we just put in a little extra dark soy sauce.  The use of fresh tomatoes gave the curry a nice fresh taste.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

2 medium-sized aubergines
7 tbsp vegetable oil
200g shallots, thinly sliced
25g garlic, thinly sliced
25g peeled ginger, finely chopped
2 medium-hot red chillies, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp shrimp paste
200g chopped tomatoes
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
juice of 1/2 lime

Cut the aubergines in half lengthways and then across into slices 1cm thick.  Heat 5 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or large, deep frying pan.  Add the aubergines and stir fry for 6 minutes until lightly golden.  Lift out with a slotted spoon onto a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan, add the shallots and garlic and fry until golden.  Add the ginger, chillies, shrimp paste and tomatoes and cook for a few seconds more until the tomatoes have softened.

Return the aubergines to the pan with the lime leaves and 6 tablespoons of water.  Simmer for 2 minutes until the aubergines are tender and the sauce has reduced slightly.  Stir in the kecap manis, dark soy sauce, sugar, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste, and serve.

Seasonal local food recipe No.294 – Felicity Cloake’s perfect moussaka


This recipe is taken from Felicity Cloake’s How to Cook the Perfect column in the Guardian. Every week she takes a familiar dish and tries several different recipes before coming up with her definitive recipe to make the perfect dish, in this case the perfect moussaka. We will be trying this on Sunday.

Serves 4

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes

4 tbsp olive oil
3 medium or 2 large aubergines, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
500g minced lamb
2 tbsp tomato purée, mixed with 150ml water
150ml red wine
Small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

For the béchamel:
500ml milk
60g butter
60g plain flour
50g kefalotyri or pecorino cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
Nutmeg, to grate


Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Cut the aubergines lengthways into 0.5cm slices, and put them on to oiled baking sheets. Brush with olive oil and season. Bake for about 25 minutes until soft, golden and floppy.

Meanwhile, put 2 tbsp olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic, cinnamon and oregano and cook for a further couple of minutes, then stir in the lamb. Turn up the heat slightly, and brown the lamb well, cooking until the mixture is quite dry. Stir in the tomato and wine, bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down low and cook for 30–40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season and stir in the parsley.

While the meat is cooking, make the bechamel. Bring the milk to just below boiling point, and melt the butter in another saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter and cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook until you have a thick sauce, then stir in the cheese until melted. Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, salt to taste and add slightly more nutmeg than you might think wise (it’s a strong flavour, but you need a heft of it in this dish I think – half a teaspoon at least).

Arrange a third of the aubergines in the base of an oven dish, and top with half the meat. Repeat these layers, then finish off with a layer of aubergine, and top with the sauce. Bake for about 45 minutes until well browned, and then leave to cool for half an hour before serving.

Seasonal local food recipe No.291 – Aubergines with pasta and cheese

This is an old favourite from Vegetarian Meals by Rosamund Richardson.  It is good served with a green salad.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes

2 medium aubergines
olive oil
225 g pasta shapes
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 garlic clove, crushed
225 g strong cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Cut the aubergines into fairly thin slices and sprinkle with salt.  Let them sweat for 30 minutes, and then rinse the salt off and wipe dry.  Cook the aubergine in olive oil – they absorb it well, so you will need quite a lot – until they are soft and slightly browned.

Cook the pasta ‘al dente’.  Make up 300 ml of tomato sauce using the tomato puree, crushed garlic and water.  Put layers in a baking dish of the tomato sauce, sliced aubergine, pasta and cheese, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.  Finish with a layer of cheese and bake at 180°C/Gas mark 4 for 25 minutes.

Seasonal local food recipe No.247 – Neela’s aubergine and potato Ⓥ

This recipe is taken from Madhur Jaffrey‘s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking.  It is a tasty side dish for a curry.

Serves 2-4

Preparation and cooking time: 20-30 minutes

4 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp whole black mustard seeds
140g peeled, diced potatoes (1.5 cm cubes)
115g diced aubergine (1.5 cm cubes)
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs fresh green coriander (optional)

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.  When hot, put in the mustard seeds.  As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop put in the potatoes and aubergine.  Stir once then put in the rest ot the ingredients, apart from the fresh coriander, stir and fry for one minute.  Add 3 tbs water, cover and turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 – 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring every now and then.  If the vegetables seem to catch at the bottom of the pan, add another tablespoon of water.  Serve garnished with the fresh coriander, finely chopped.

Seasonal local food recipe No.241 – Moroccan aubergine, chickpea and red pepper salad

My husband made this delicious salad for tea yesterday.  Instead of red pepper we used the green peppers out of our veg box.

Serves: 2-4

Cooking and preparation time: 30 minutes

2 small or 1 large aubergine, sliced into 1cm (½in) rounds
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 red pepper, cut into quarters
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tbsps parsley, chopped
2 tbsps mint, finely chopped, plus 2 tbsps of small leaves for garnish
For the dressing:
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
4 tbsps olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, season lightly then cook them on a very-hot ridged grill pan until nicely coloured on each side with char-grilled lines.  Do the same with the red pepper. Once these are cooked, allow them to cool. Whisk together the honey, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, olive oil, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  In a large bowl, combine the dressing with the chickpeas, chopped red onions, parsley and mint, then toss together to dress the salad.  Top the salad with the aubergine and pepper slices, garnish with a few mint leaves and serve.

Seasonal local food recipe No 160: Melanzane parmigiana

This richly-flavoured Italian dish of layered cheese and vegetables is traditionally made with aubergines, but you can use the courgettes in this week’s veg boxes as well or instead. It’s delicious with a green salad and crusty bread. This version is from BBC olive magazine.

Serves: 4

Preparation / cooking time: 75 minutes

olive oil
2 garlic cloves , thinly sliced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1 small bunch basil, shredded
3 medium aubergines
2 balls mozzarella, sliced
a handful grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan, add the garlic and sizzle for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cinnamon and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened. Stir in the basil and season.

Slice the aubergines lengthways about 1/2cm thick. Brush both sides with oil, season and griddle (chargrill), turning a few times until completely tender (you could also do this in a non-stick frying pan). It’s important to get the aubergine as tender as possible, so give it time.

Remove the cinnamon stick and put a few spoonfuls of the sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Cover with the aubergine and mozzarella then repeat, ending with a thin layer of sauce (you’ll have roughly 3-4 layers). Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and golden.

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