I don’t travel abroad very often, (especially if it involves a plane,) since my beloved country has wonderful beaches, beautiful mountains, breathtaking islands all within a 4 hour driving range. That is why now that we (Greece) have put ourselves in a bad position, the “developed” northern part of Europe is moving in for the kill…. Noone, no matter how wealthy, wants to spend all their lives in a dull, cloudy environment, and so our nice beaches & failing economy make for the ideal target. OMG, I am becoming like my granfather, rambling off-topic, talking politics in a food blog… let’s get back to cooking & its relevance to me recent travels. Every time I do end up venturing outside of Greece, I am reminded that the true value of the experience is meeting new people, experiencing different ways of life, & seeing diverse cultures. Food is always a big part of any culture, & my recent trip to the Middle east was filled with new flavors & experiences. I loved the spicy teas they treated us to everywhere we went, and the amazing dates that were abundantly present. I had cheese & chocolate made from camel milk and the best lamb I have ever tasted, always accompanied by a fragrant rice side-dish every time I ordered it. One of the dishes that impressed me the most, was this fragrant starter that seemed so representative of the local ingredients and cooking style. This dish however stuck with me and I share with you my attempt to recreate it. Enjoy.
– 1 cauliflower, broken in bite sized florets
– 1 aubergine, cut in thin discs (3-4mm)
– 1 tbs ground coriander
– 1 tbs sumac (can substitute 1 tbs paprica and a 1 tsp lemon juice)
– 1 tbs cumin
– 9 tbs olive oil
– 4 tbs greek yogurt (fage)
– 1 tsp honey
– 1 1/2 tbs tahini paste
– 2 tbs lemon juice
– 2 tsp roasted garlic paste
– handful chopped fresh coriander
– handful pomegranade seeds
– salt & pepper to taste
1. Sprinkle the aubergine slices with 1 tbs salt and mix carefully. Let them “sweat” for 20 minutes in a strainer. Rinse with water and pat dry. In a bowl mix them with 5 tbs olive oil until all are coated. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 220ºC for about 20 minutes, halfway through cooking, flip the slices over to allow the other side to cook, until golden brown and slightly crispy around the edges. Keep an eye on them as they burn quite fast. Remove and place on kitchen paper.
2. in a bowl, mix yogurt, lemon juice, honey, tahini and garlic and set aside.
3. Place the cauliflower florets in boiling water that has been salted and cook for no more than 2 minutes. Strain and mix them in a bowl with 4 tbs olive oil, ground coriander, sumak, cumin, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast at 220ºC for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
4. Allow to cool but not completely and mix with the yogurt dressing while still a little warm.
5. Arrange the aubergine & cauliflower on a plate as you please and garnish with the pomegranade and fresh coriander on top.
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