Roasted Aubergine W/Buttermilk Sauce

Apart from tomatoes, which is basically an outsider in the fruit world, can we think of any other fruit that compliments ingredients and can be served as a main dish? As in savoury ingredients to make up a savoury meal? I am sure there are many but a. I can’t think of any right now and b. I would never want to try any of them anyway. Fruit is something to snack on in between meals or part of a pudding. It’s something you can blitz into a smoothie or squeeze to make juice but part of a meal? no no no nooooo no no no no. The whole sweet mixed in with savoury I can tolerate when it's in the form of a peanut butter and jam sandwich and I draw the line there. Which makes me wonder why I ever even attempted this dish? Because yes, those are aubergines, common vegetable that can be observed at mealtimes and yes those are pomegranates: sweet, refreshing and difficult to extract, combining the two makes me feel strange.  I think my decision to attempt this dish stemmed from a combination of guilt and laziness. I felt guilty as I had received this gorgeous cookbook by the extraordinary chef Yotam Ottolenghi one xmas and it remain unused for well over a year. The recipes were too long in detail and appeared to complicated to attempt, I decided to try this one as it looked the easiest and required least amount of complicated ingredients and well, I could have easily dismissed the fruit but the pomegranates made the dish look so goddamn pretty. I couldn’t not include them. AND in the end, rather good to eat. tasted V good in fact. I’m now even tempted to try watermelon and feta because that’s another strange combination of ingredients I’ve always been against…

Recipe found here and PS I left out the za'atar as I figured no where close to me would stock the stuff.  

2 large and long aubergines
75ml olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pomegranate
1 tsp za'atar
A few sprigs fresh lemon thyme
For the sauce
140ml buttermilk
100g Greek yogurt
1½ tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish off
1 small garlic clove, crushed
Pinch salt


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Wash the aubergines and cut them in two lengthways through the green stalk (it looks better like this, even though you don't eat the stalk). Make three or four deep parallel incisions in the cut side of the aubergine, taking care not to cut as far as the skin. Then, at a 45-degree angle to these cuts, make four more, to create a diamond pattern.

Put the aubergines, cut side up, on an oven tray lined with baking parchment and brush with the oil. Keep on brushing until all the oil has soaked into the flesh. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35-40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavoursome and well browned. Remove and leave to cool.

While the aubergines are in the oven, cut the pomegranate in two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, the cut side facing your palm, and with the back of a wooden spoon gently knock on the skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start falling into the bowl. Once all are out, sift through the seeds to remove any white skin bits. For the sauce, simply whisk together all the ingredients, taste for seasoning and keep cold until needed.

To serve, put an aubergine half on a plate, flesh side up. Spoon over lots of sauce without covering the stalk, sprinkle on lots of pomegranate seeds and some za'atar, garnish with lemon thyme and finish with a drizzle of oil.

Main DishKhatija