The black curvy aubergines you see in the supermarket are extremely versatile and one of my favourite ingredients, especially when cooking for vegetarians.
The firm flesh softens with cooking becoming almost creamy and takes on the flavours of many spices. I often slice an aubergine in half, score the flesh and coat in hoisin sauce before baking in the oven.
There are different varieties: you can buy a small, firm type for Thai dishes; long, striped purple ones from Italy and light long green/purple varieties from Japan.
How many of you have had them curried? There is a restaurant in London I have eaten in called Amaya where you watch the chefs preparing aubergines in tandoor ovens. The dish has become a firm favourite.
In Syria, Lebanon, Romania and Turkey aubergines are turned into a smokey-flavoured purée, enhanced with tahini and spices and eaten as a starter. Each country adds something a little different to the other but the end result, baba ganoush, is something you can easily do at home.
This glorious purée goes well with slow-roasted mutton, goat and cold meats, but is traditionally served with flat breads at the start of a meal.
To discover more about Lawrence’s restaurant Fat Olives, visit fatolives.co.uk or call 01243 377914.
Aubergine baba ganoush
1 clove garlic finely chopped
Teaspoon cumin seed (roasted and ground)
1 tablespoon tahini paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tablespoon lemon juice
1. Prick the aubergines all over and rub with a little olive oil
2. Place on foil on a baking tray and put in a hot oven 200c/gas 6 for 30 to 90 minutes depending on the size of the fruit.
3. The aubergines should be a little charred and collapsed. Allow to cool.
4. Scrape out the centre of the aubergines and press onto a kitchen towel to remove excess liquid.
5. Put the aubergine in a food blender with all the other ingredients and pulse until smooth.
7. Serve with flat breads.