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Grilled aubergine recipe: How to make The Palomar’s version at home

Written by Travel Adventures

An unlikely addition to London’s Chinatown, The Palomar is famed for its innovative takes on traditional Israeli and Mediterranean dishes. Helmed by chef Omri McNabb, it champions seasonal ingredients as part of an ethos also maintained at its sibling restaurants – The Barbary, Jacob the Angel and Evelyn’s Table. Since starting out at Cordon Bleu in Florence, McNabb has headed up kitchens all over the world, from Herbert Samuel and Popina in Tel Aviv to Night Kitchen in Berlin. Here, he shows us how to make The Palomar’s grilled aubergine drizzled with tahini, topped with cucumber yogurt and cherry tomatoes.

‘This dish is inspired by siniya – which is a Middle Eastern casserole usually cooked in Jerusalem with lamb. The vegan version is made with cauliflower. Both have a baked tahini top. This dish is one of my favourites, and one of the most popular at The Palomar. I have adapted the usual flavours used in siniya – tahini, yogurt, lemon, pine nuts – to enhance the flavour of the classic Israeli vegetable: the aubergine, which is always abundantly available at markets. We normally cook the aubergine in the Josper at The Palomar, but it can be made under a very hot grill at home. Grilling the aubergine twice results in meltingly soft flesh and the tahini being nicely caramelised. It’s best enjoyed by just scooping the flesh, baked tahini and yogurt out of the aubergine skin and spooning it onto warmed pittas. A delicious dish for a warm summer day.’ Omri McNabb

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How to make The Palomar’s grilled aubergine with tahini, cucumber yogurt and cherry tomatoes


Serves two

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 20g flaked almonds (toasted)

Tahini paste:

  • 100g tahini (ideally raw or paste)
  • 75ml cold water
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp salt

Cucumber yogurt:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 80g natural yogurt
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Start off by creating a spice mix for the aubergine. In a small bowl mix the salt, cumin and paprika. Slice the aubergine in half, and then cut a crosshatch pattern into each of the halves. You want to cut about a quarter inch into the flesh. Rub the spice mix all over the cut side of the aubergine and leave to rest.
  2. Next make the tahini paste. Mix the tahini, cold water, lemon juice and salt together in a bowl with a whisk until it is smooth and with no lumps. Taste and check seasoning – add more salt if needed.
  3. Next make the yogurt salsa. Cut the cucumber lengthways and scoop out and retain the insides – the best way to do this is with a teaspoon. Put the insides into a sieve over the sink to drain. The rest of the cucumber can be put back in the fridge or used to make an easy fattoush salad.
  4. Once drained, chop the cucumber flesh and add to a bowl with the yogurt. Mix together.
  5. Finely chop and de-seed the green chilli and then grate or finely chop the garlic clove. Add these to the yogurt with the salt and chopped fresh oregano. Mix together and check seasoning.
  6. When ready to serve – preheat the grill to 200℃ and place the aubergine halves skin-side up on a baking tray.
  7. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the aubergine. Remove and then smear the tahini paste on the cut side.
  8. Place back in the oven for a further seven-10 minutes.
  9. Once nicely caramelised, place the aubergine halves on a plate and finish by smoothing a dollop of the cucumber yogurt on top and scatter over the halved cherry tomatoes (that we mix with olive oil, salt and pepper) and toasted flaked almonds. Enjoy!

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