"The sweetness of the prunes and Pedro Ximinez present a great foil to the earthiness of the spiced eggplants and smokiness of the scorched eggplant. This dish unites two of my all-time faves: eggplants and smokiness in a delicious marriage."
- 2 large eggplants
- fine salt
- 12 French shallots, peeled
- 125 ml (½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 3 cm piece ginger, finely grated
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- 60 g (¾ cup) pitted prunes
- 250 g canned tomatoes
- 40 g (¼ cup) roasted blanched almonds
- 250 ml (1 cup) Pedro Ximinez sherry
- 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable stock
- pinch caster sugar
- 150 g freekeh, cooked (see note)
- 200 g Greek yoghurt
- ¼ cup parsley leaves
- ¼ cup dill sprigs
- finely grated lemon zest
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Cut one eggplant into 1 ½ cm thick rounds, then cut each round into quarters. Place in a colander over a bowl, season generously with salt and toss to combine. Stand for 20 minutes, then rinse the eggplant and pat dry.
- Place the other eggplant over an open flame (either a gas stove or barbecue) and cook, turning regularly until collapsed and blackened and blistered all over. Place in a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, turning regularly until caramelised. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon and cumin and stir until fragrant. Add the salted eggplant and cook until it just starts to soften. Add the prunes, tomatoes, almonds, sherry, stock and sugar. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Once the charred eggplant has cooled, drain and scrape away the burnt skin with paper towel. Trim off the blackened top, then place the flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork. Add as much of the eggplant flesh as you like to the pan with the eggplant and prunes (add the whole lot if you want it extra smoky) and stir gently.
- Serve with freekeh, yoghurt, herbs and lemon zest.
• To cook the freekeh, bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add 150 g freekeh, cover and reduce the heat to medium. Slowly simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stand, covered for another 5 minutes before serving.
Adam Liaw cooks, laughs, and explores culture with some of Australia's most beloved in The Cook Up With Adam Liaw.
Photography by Adam Liaw.