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Smoky aubergine and garlic dip

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Prep time: 15 minutes

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Lunch, Side Dishes, Starter, Vegetarian

About this recipe

‘Sharing plates, sharing minds’ is the life lesson that inspired this recipe – you can find it here.

Mezes are the epitome of sharing food, and this is my favourite of the delicacies that you’ll find as part of the spread at any Greek table. I, however, have never had the tolerance it takes to roast whole aubergines; I yield to the hotness of my own impatience before they do to that of the oven. So here I’ve speeded things up by using my trusty speed peeler. Peeling the aubergine first just feels easy and right – its raw sturdy state is amenable to it and the activity is also nicely in-keeping with my own vegetable recipe schema, where ‘peel the veg’ is an obvious and comfortable first step so many other vegetable recipes begin with. And in the spirit of the flavour of bonfire, the little charred corners of the roasted aubergine cubes add another grilled note to the final dip.

With the aubergine’s roots in Asia, I like to think of this little dish as both Moorish and moreish. The story goes that the Ancient Romans named the aubergine mala insana, which translates to ‘apple of insanity’, because they thought it was poisonous. And that’s where the Greek word for aubergine, melitzana, comes from. Although the eater in me wants to say that you’d be crazy for sharing this dip, the psychologist in me wins over and encourages you to share, for all of those wonderful well-being benefits.

  • 1 large aubergine (approximately 400g in weight)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons smoked garlic granules
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt (any fat content you like)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

This recipe will make about 200g (a supermarket pot’s worth)

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
  2. Peel the aubergine (I find this easiest to do with a speed peeler) and cut into little cubes, about 2cm by 2cm.
  3. In a roasting tray, toss the aubergine cubes in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with ½ a teaspoon of the smoked garlic granules. Season with salt (roughly ¼ teaspoon) and pepper.
  4. Bake the aubergine cubes for about 35-40 minutes, or until they take on a creamy golden beige colour and the corners are slightly darker and charred. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the roasted aubergine cubes to a food processor and pulse a few times to initially mash. Then, with the motor running, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the remaining teaspoon of smoked garlic granules and the lemon juice. Blitz until smooth.
  6. Scrape the aubergine mixture into a bowl and stir in the Greek yogurt – I prefer to do this last step by hand, simply because I enjoy it. Season to taste before serving – it will likely need more salt. This will keep, covered, in the fridge for 5 days.

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