All over the Caucasus, people traditionally stuff eggplants (aubergines) with walnuts and pomegranate seeds to be pickled and preserved for the long winter months. This is a fresh version of the Georgian dish badrijani nigvzit, using grilled eggplant instead, but with the same flavours. Try to use narrow eggplants, rather than bulbous ones, to give you long slices for rolling.
- 2 medium aubergines (eggplants)
- 200 g shelled walnuts
- seeds of ½ pomegranate
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
- juice of 1 lemon
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- pomegranate molasses, to serve
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.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Spread the walnuts out on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5–10 minutes until golden.
Tip them onto a clean tea towel and rub off and discard the skins. Leave to cool.
Make the stuffing by pounding the walnuts into a rubble using a pestle and mortar. Stir in the pomegranate seeds, coriander, garlic and chilli. Slacken the mixture with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the lemon juice and season with salt. Set aside for the flavours to meld. Preheat a ridged griddle pan until really hot. Remove the stem from the aubergines and carefully cut each lengthways into slices less than 1cm thick. Discard the skin side slices. Brush each slice generously with olive oil on both sides and season. Lay a few slices on the hot griddle and cook until completely soft and charred on both sides. Set aside while you cook the remaining batches.
Spread the aubergine slices with the walnut stuffing and roll into cylinders. You can use cocktail sticks to keep the rolls together.
Serve at room temperature, drizzled with pomegranate molasses.