Aubergines! No one cooks them better than Italians, Indians and Middle Eastern cuisines. This beautiful recipe of eggplants stewed in a jammy tomato sauce flavoured with saffron and rosewater is testament to the versatility of this exquisite vegetable.
This recipe has a wonderful mix of spices including saffron and the sprinkling of rosewater gives it a wonderful Middle Eastern ambiance. The house smells amazing as the aubergines cooks gently in this scented tomato base.
Saffron and Rosewater Scented Aubergine | Persian Style Eggplant
Cuisine: Middle Eastern Style
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
3 Tblspn olive oil
1 medium red or white onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
0.5 tspn turmeric
0.5 tspn black pepper
1.5 tspn cumin powder
pinch or two of cayenne pepper
1 tspn salt
1 tspn saffron threads soaked in 2 Tblspn warm water
300g tomatoes, skin removed and chopped
400g small eggplants, quartered lengthwise **
juice and finely grated rind of 1 lime
1 tspn rose water
Take your eggplant quarters, place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Mix them around so that they are coated. Place in a backing pan or on a baking sheet, skin side down, and grill until the flesh turns a bronze colour. Remove them from the oven at that point.
Meanwhile, taking a wide heavy bottom pan, heat the oil and saute the onions for 10 minutes until they are golden but not browning.
Add the garlic, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, 1/2 tspn salt and the saffron water. Stir over a low heat for 2 or 3 minutes to toast the spices.
Add the chopped tomatoes with 2 Tblspns water. Keep the heat on medium and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Add a little more water and lower the heat a little if you find that the tomatoes begin sticking.
Now add the aubergines to the tomatoes, skin side down, and sprinkle with the remaining salt, rosewater and lime juice. You can also add more water if it is necessary. Cover and cook for around 20 more minutes until the eggplant is tender but still holds its shape.
Place in a serving dish, strew with chopped herbs (coriander, basil or flatleaved parsley), grate lime or lemon rind over the top with a micro-plane grater, and serve with thick yoghurt and saffron crusted rice (tahdig).