Aubergines in tamarind sauce with baked halloumi and saffron rice
A Middle Eastern feast to feed a crowd.
For the aubergines
For the baked halloumi
For the rice
For the aubergines, heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Fry the onion for 8–10 minutes, or until browned but not burnt. Add the garlic cloves and cinnamon to the saucepan and cook for a couple of minutes, until the garlic begins to soften. Stir in the tamarind, tomato and honey and season generously with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour, until the sauce has reduced a little, sweetened and intensified in flavour.
Meanwhile, line a baking tray with a double layer of kitchen paper. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large saucepan to achieve a depth of about 2.5cm/1in. Place the oil over a high heat and once hot, add the aubergine wedges. Fry for 15 minutes, turning occasionally with tongs, until browned and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the paper-lined tray to drain. Pat with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil. Once the sauce has cooked, add the aubergine wedges to the sauce and carefully stir to mix.
For the baked halloumi, preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas Mark 7. Take a large square of kitchen foil and line it with baking paper. Place the halloumi in the centre of the baking paper. Mix the harissa, honey and lime juice together in a small bowl and pour the mixture over the halloumi. Bring the baking paper up around the cheese, repeat with the foil and seal the parcel tightly at the top. Place on a small baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.
For the saffron rice, cook the basmati rice according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain again and set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan over a medium–low heat. Add the garlic and fry for 1–2 minutes, or until soft, translucent and golden around the edges. Crumble in the saffron, add the dill and fry for a few minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the butter into the pan until melted and then add the cooked rice. Stir-fry for 2–3 minutes, add the peas and cook for a few more minutes. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for a final 10–15 minutes.
Serve the aubergine with slices of the baked halloumi, the saffron rice and flatbreads.