Smokey eggplant dip with barbecued bread
With its deep, smoky flavour, this is the ultimate dip for me. It’s best to cook the eggplants on a wood fire, but they also come up great cooked on the stovetop, straight on the flame (a word to the wise: keep the smoke away from the fire alarm).
2 medium-sized eggplants (aubergines)
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
olive oil, for dressing
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw honey
2 pinches of allspice
Barbecued bread (see below), plain yoghurt and sumac, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
- Make sure the eggplants are at room temperature and not cold from the fridge so they cook more evenly. Cook the eggplants over an open flame. You want them to char and smoke (basically burn the hell out of ’em).
- Cook them until they’re tender but still holding their shape, then transfer to a bowl and cover. Try and catch a bit of the smoke in with the eggplants if you can. They’ll steam and smoke for a bit to finish the cooking. Leave to cool.
- Dress the garlic cloves in olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast in a small ovenproof frying pan in the oven for 10 minutes. If you’re lucky enough to have a wood-fired barbecue going, you could throw a whole bulb of garlic into the ashes instead and let it cook slowly. When ready, peel off the 4 cloves needed for this dish.
- Cut the tops off the eggplants and discard. Chop the eggplants into pieces and throw them into a blender, blistered skin and all. Blend to a fine purée. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins, and add them to the blender. Add the tahini, lemon juice, honey and allspice. Give everything a whizz and season with salt.
- Serve with a scoop of yoghurt in the middle and a sprinkle of sumac. Dig in. Like I said, it’s the ultimate dip.
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried yeast
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling tops and frying
4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 kg freshly milled flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tablespoons salt
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, oil, yoghurt and 750 ml of water. Mix well and let it stand for 10 minutes.
- Mix the flour and the salt together and add to the water mixture. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough begins to have some resistance when stretched. Lightly oil the sides of the bowl and let the dough sit, covered, for 1 hour.
- After the hour, lift up one side of the dough and fold in half. Do the same to the other edge, folding it into quarters. Cover and let it sit for another 30 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and dust some more flour on top of it. Divide the dough into 130 g portions. Roll the dough into balls and let them sit on the floured surface, covered, for 20 minutes. Re-roll the balls and place them onto an oiled tray, leaving enough space for them to double in size. This will take about 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the temperature of the room.
- If you’re cooking on a barbecue, make sure the grill is good and hot. Oil the tops of the dough balls and press down to make a disc shape. Place the oiled surface face down on the grill (make sure there is a bit of space between each disc). Cook for 3–4 minutes, or until the grill marks are nice and coloured. Flip and repeat on the other side.
- If cooking on a stovetop, add oil to a frying pan over medium heat (a cast iron pan works a treat), then follow the same process as the barbecue method.
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