Eggplant is one of my all time favourite vegetables ever. It’s smoky, creamy, and goes really well with minced beef or lamb. When combined with aromatics of thyme or za’atar, which is a wild oregano commonly found and used throughout the middle-east, it’s out of this world!
The thing about eggplant is that it has quite a high water content, and tends to absorb quite a bit of liquid. If you’ve ever tried to just lightly pan-fry eggplant, don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve used up half a bottle of your vegetable oil. These guys soak up oil like a sponge! To help reduce this scenario, I usually do two things:
- I first salt the sliced eggplant pieces to help draw out the moisture and bitterness from the seeds, then squeeze the excess juice away.
- Instead of frying, I always opt for roasting it. Not only does it create a delicious charred flavour, but you really only need to drizzle it a bit with oil and let the roasting do it’s magic.
This dish is finished with juicy and sweet bits of pomegranate, salty feta cheese, crunchy pine nuts, and a spicy bite from arugula… It makes a wonderful side dish or appetiser, and looks gorgeous on a long platter.
Check out the video of my hands in action making this dish for Al Islami Foods.
Note: Earlier this year in April, I had the opportunity to work with Al Islami Foods; one of UAE’s pioneering food production companies that specialises in halal chicken and frozen foods since the 80’s. The project involved developing recipes using their food products in time for the holy month of Ramadan.
This delicious dish was made using Al-Islami’s ground beef. However, for anyone without access to this particular brand (living abroad), you may still use alternative ground beef or lamb from your local grocer or butcher.