This is one of the finest dishes we’ve ever made or eaten, with every mouthful the perfect combination of flavours you could hope to get in a Middle Eastern restaurant. It’s a proud remix of an entire cuisine into a cake and, while it is a bit of a labour of love, it’s guaranteed to excite your taste buds.
- 2 eggplant (aubergines)
- 2 zucchini (courgettes)
- olive oil
- 1 thin flatbread (under 5 mm)
- 300 g hummus
- 2 tbsp chilli sauce
- 18–20 sun-dried tomatoes
- 100 g olive tapenade
- 250 g cooked basmati rice
- 7 roasted red capsicum (peppers) from a jar
- 8 artichokes from a jar
- 100 g baba ganoush
- 400 g tin chickpeas
- 1 small red onion
- 15 g fresh parsley leaves
- 10 g fresh coriander leaves
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1½–2 tsp ground cumin
- 1½–2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 1½ tbsp plain flour
- 3 tsp olive oil
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.
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Drizzle a baking tray drizzled with olive oil. Have ready a 20cm deep loose-bottomed or springform cake tin.
2. Cut off the stems of the eggplants and cut the flesh into slices about 5 mm thick. Trim the zucchini and cut them into 5mm slices. Set aside three of the nicest-looking slices of each (choose ones that are roughly the same size). Spread the rest over the greased baking tray and drizzle them with a bit more oil. Rub the oil into the slices. Put the tray into the hot oven and roast for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Remove the tray from the oven and set it aside to cool.
3. Next, place the flatbread on a chopping board and lay the round cake tin on top of it. Cut around the tin with a sharp knife to make a flatbread circle that will fit inside the bottom of it. Put the flatbread inside the tin and spread it with a 1cm layer of hummus. Drizzle a tablespoon of chilli sauce over the top of the hummus.
4. You’re now going to layer up the ingredients inside the tin to build up your mezze cake. First place a flat ring of sun-dried tomatoes all around the edge of the tin. Then, inside the ring of tomatoes, build another ring of roasted zucchini slices, placing one in the centre if there is space. Fill in any gaps between the slices with spoonfuls of the olive tapenade.
5. Next, spoon a layer of the pre-cooked rice over the vegetables so that it is about 5mm deep all over and press it down firmly with the back of the spoon to get it nice and firm and even all over. Place a layer of the roasted eggplant and zucchini slices over the top of the rice layer and fill the gaps with more blobs of the olive tapenade. Once again, press down all over the top of the cake with a spoon to keep it all nice and compact (this step is important as it will hold the cake together when it cooks and ensure you get immaculate slices).
6. Cut the roasted capsicum into 2cm strips and arrange them in a star shape over the top of the cake and fill the spaces in between the star with pieces of artichoke. Firm everything down again with the back of a spoon. Arrange more of the roasted zucchini around the edge of the tin and place some sun-dried tomatoes in the space in the middle. Fill in the gaps with spoonfuls of the baba ganoush.
7. Next prepare the falafel topping. Drain the chickpeas and tip them into the food processor. Peel the onion and roughly chop it, then add it to the chickpeas. Throw in the fresh parsley and coriander leaves, the garlic powder, the ground cumin, ground coriander and the harissa paste. Spoon the flour into the food processor with the tablespoon of olive oil and pinch of salt. Whizz everything together until you have a thick paste. Spoon the falafel mixture all over the top of the cake and smooth it out using the back of the spoon or a palette knife as if you were icing a cake, until you have an even 1cm layer,
8. Put the cake in the hot oven and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the falafel on the top has hardened and everything is cooked through.
9. While the cake is cooking, put a griddle (grill) pan on a medium-high heat and drizzle it with some olive oil. Heat the oil until it’s really hot. Put the reserved slices of eggplant and zucchini into the hot pan and cook them on one side until they have defined char lines and are softened, then flip them over to cook the other side (try not to move them around too much in the pan as we want to make nice neat black griddle lines), the eggplant will take around 5 minutes per side and the zucchini will take about 3–4 minutes per side. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the slices to a plate.
10. When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven. To finish and decorate it, spoon the remaining hummus on top and spread it out neatly until you have a 5mm–1cm layer all over the top of the cake. Now make it look pretty by decorating it with the griddled aubergine and courgette slices and then drizzling it all over the top with the rest of the chilli sauce. Finally, scatter over the fresh green coriander leaves
11. Carefully release the cake from the tin and reveal your masterpiece. You’ll need to use a very sharp knife to slice the cake and serve it immediately. If the knife gets caught at any point, a sharp pair of scissors can help you to cut it more neatly. Pay attention to making sure the flatbread at the bottom is completely cut through before you remove the slice so that everything comes out in one perfect tidy piece!
Recipe from BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby (HQ)