A great Persian dish of soft roasted aubergine in tomato and garlic sauce, with eggs cooked into it at the last minute. Ideal for making as part of a mezze meal.
3 large aubergines
vegetable or olive oil, for frying
1 bulb garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
½ tsp turmeric
3 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp tomato purée
½ tsp caster sugar
1½ tsp crushed sea salt
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
small handful of broken walnut pieces, to garnish
Persian flatbread, to serve
The most authentic way to prepare the aubergines is to blister them whole over an open flame (either on a barbecue or over a domestic gas hob) until blackened and the flesh has softened right through to the centre. Alternatively, to bake them, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Place the aubergines in a roasting tin and roast them whole in the oven 40-45 minutes.
Meanwhile put a good drizzle of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and slowly cook the garlic slices, ensuring you cook them through rather than simply browning them. If they start to go brown too quickly, take the pan off the heat and allow the residual heat to cook them through, if necessary. Once the garlic begins to brown around the edges, stir in the turmeric. Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until they break down and are cooked through, then turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
Once the aubergines are cooked, score the aubergine skin from stalk to base and scoop out the flesh using a large spoon. Stir this into the garlic and tomatoes. Place the pan over a medium-high heat and cook through for a few minutes, mashing a little as you go. Lastly, add the tomato purée, sugar and sea salt, stir well and cook for a further 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from browning.
Make lots of little holes in the aubergine mixture and pour the beaten eggs straight into the pan, but do not stir in the egg. You want to ensure the eggs are cooking and solidifying before you incorporate them, they take about 5-6 minutes to become opaque. Once cooked, give the mixture one final stir and remove the pan from the heat. Leave the mixture to cool for 20 minutes, as this dish is best served warm rather than piping hot. Garnish with walnut pieces and serve with flatbread.
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James Martin presents with help from top chefs Gennaro Contaldo and Francesco Mazzei.