Roasted aubergines with buttermilk dressing and jewelled Persian rice

Roasted aubergines with buttermilk dressing and jewelled Persian rice
  • Serves icon Serves 4-6
  • Time icon Hands-on 30 min, steaming 30-35 min, oven 50 min

Smoky aubergine and crunchy, aromatic jewelled rice are married together with a tangy and fresh garlicky dressing in this Middle-Eastern inspired recipe.

We’ve got lots of ideas with aubergine (or eggplant), take a look at the recipes here.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
613kcals
Fat
37.6g (12.1g saturated)
Protein
11g
Carbohydrates
58.9g (10.6g sugars)
Fibre
7.3g
Salt
0.4g
Calories
613kcals
Fat
37.6g (12.1g saturated)
Protein
11g
Carbohydrates
58.9g (10.6g sugars)
Fibre
7.3g
Salt
0.4g

Ingredients

  • 4 large aubergines, halved lengthways
  • Scant 1 tbsp ras el hanout (a North African spice mix, from large supermarkets)
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

For the dressing

  • 284ml tub buttermilk
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Juice ½ lemon
  • Small bunch fresh chives, finely chopped

For the persian rice

  • 350g long grain rice
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • 200g cherries, stoned and quartered
  • 100g walnuts, toasted in a frying pan with a little oil
  • Large bunch each fresh coriander and parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • Juice ½ -1 lemon

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas 6. Score the aubergine flesh into diamond patterns with a small sharp knife, rub with the ras el hanout and slowly drizzle over the oil, letting it sink in before adding more. Put the aubergines in a roasting tin, scatter with sea salt and roast in the oven for around 50 minutes or until completely soft and golden.
  2. Mix the dressing ingredients in a jug. Taste, season, then set aside.
  3. Put the rice in a pan with a pinch of salt and cover with water. Bring to a simmer, then bubble gently for 8-10 minutes until the rice is half cooked. Drain and leave to sit for 1 minute.
  4. Put half the butter in a large lidded sauté pan or wide saucepan over a low heat and swirl the pan to coat (the wider the pan, the bigger the crust). Tip in the rice and flatten the top gently, then poke some holes in the rice with a wooden spoon handle. Pour over 100ml water, then the rest of the butter. Lay a clean tea towel over the top of the pan, not touching the rice, then put the lid on top and fold the tea towel up over the lid so it’s away from the heat. Cook over a low heat for around 30-35 minutes. Gently lift up a section of the underside of the rice – there should be a golden crust. If it’s not ready, replace the tea towel and lid and cook a little longer.
  5. Once the rice has a good crust to it (see Know-how), tip it out of the pan into a mixing bowl, scraping out the crust. Stir through the rest of the rice ingredients and season, breaking up the crust so it’s distributed evenly through. Serve the warm aubergines with the rice, with the dressing spooned over.

delicious. tips

  1. Change the ingredients in the rice according to what you fancy. Fresh pomegranate seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and all sorts of soft herbs work brilliantly.

  2. Make the buttermilk dressing up to 12 hours in advance and keep chilled, but stir the chives through at the last minute. You can make the rice and aubergines 2-3 hours in advance and serve at room temperature.

  3. Persian rice is cooked so it forms a thick, crisp golden crust on the bottom (known as the tahdig, which means ‘bottom of the pot’). It’s such a prized part of the cooked rice, sometimes it’s even served separately.

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