Luckily these ingredients are very easily found in China, except for the parsley which is a bit hit and miss. Aubergines (or eggplants) are a typical staple dish, often fried and served with a spicy sauce. They tend to be a different variety to what I am used to in European countries, either being big and round (resembling a large purple nectarine or something like that) or very long and thin (resembling a huge purple chilli pepper). The taste and texture is always very consistent however, and they are so many things you can do with this vegetable. One of my favourite vegan foods is the Middle-Eastern Babaganush, even bad babaganush tastes good to me. I like to keep the skin on because it’s full of goodness (mostly fibre), but typically, the flesh is scooped out and the skin unused. The texture is much rougher with the skin, but it’s more delicious this way in my opinion. the skin of the aubergine contains Nasunin, an anti-oxidant compound, in a number of studies, it has been found that Nasunin has the ability to prevent the rapid growth of cancer cells (angiogenesis).
You can steam the aubergine instead of roasting it, it’s actually a much healthier way to retain the vitamins in this vegetable. The taste steamed has slightly less depth, but not by much. Aubergines are an excellent source of dietary fibre, and also like most purple foods, the flesh contains the plant compound Chlorogenic Acid, which is know for its high anti-oxidant activity. Such foods containing Chlorogenic Acid as the dominant anti-oxidant are commonly associated with lowering LDL (bad cholesterol). If lemon juice is added to this food, the vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins contained in the aubergine are twice as likely to be absorbed in the body. I would avoid tahini pastes that use roasted or cooked sesame seeds. Sesame seeds, if consumed raw, are excellent source of calcium (higher than milk actually). I always buy a raw tahini paste, like the one produced by Biona best, as well as their other seed and nut butter products. You can also make your own, take a look at my Seed & Nut Butters recipe for more guidance on how to.
Large aubergine, 1
Tahini paste, 2 tbsp
Lemon, juiced, 1
Garlic cloves, roasted, 2
Fresh parsley, chopped, a handful
Extra-virgin olive oil, lots of drizzles
Chilli powder, a pinch (or two)
Cumin powder, a pinch (or two)
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Celsius.
2. Slice the aubergine lengthwise in two halves.
3. Season with olive oil, garlic and other seasoning and place on a baking tray with foil.
4. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until soft.
5. In the meantime, add the lemon juice, tahini paste, parsley, garlic, seasoning and spices to a blender.
6. Wait until the aubergine has cooled down after being taken out of the oven, and scoop it out of the skin and add it to the blender (if like me you like to eat the skins too, roughly chop them and add them too).
7. Add the olive oil and blend until a smooth(ish) pate. Add more olive oil if necessary as you blend.
8. Garnish with a little pinch of chilli powder and/or cumin, parsley and olive oil if you wish. Serve with crudités, toasted bread or if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy it on top of a tomato and vegetable kind of stew.
Garnish with a pinch of white sesame seeds and fresh chopped parsley. Steam the aubergine and garlic if you prefer to eat the slightly healthier version.
If you can’t find tahini paste, use white sesame seeds, but the texture is very different. Substitute the fresh parsley for fresh mint if you can’t get hold of parsley. Steam the aubergine instead of roasting it, it’s much healthier (and quicker).