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Roasted eggplant with cumin, honey and sumac

Eggplant is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine because of how well it grows in the region. The diversity of dishes based on eggplant is staggering, from roasted to stuffed, to fried to braised dishes. The local flavours and ingredients make it a vegetable that is enjoyed by every culture.

This dish is no exception. Simple and elegant it can be served as a side on any occasion. The soft eggplant is lightly sweetened with the honey and the sumac adds a lip-smacking tartness. The flavours come together beautifully on the palate and the otherwise boring eggplant is brought alive.

This book tends to hide in my collection and whenever I see it I tend to find a wonderful recipe in it. Most recipes are simple to make but the dishes are spectacular. Cal set up his career at Chez Panisse in Berkley, and his cuisine reflects the clean, light farm-to-table cooking of the restaurant. Cal is an expert in designing fabulous dishes, and like this soup, unique. I love the way he combines flavours, textures and colours for a dish that stuns. I should be cooking from here and his other cookbooks more often.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


12 baby, baby Japanese or a globe eggplant

Olive oil spray

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons honey

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 teaspoon sumac + to garnish

Heat the oven to 375° F.

Cut the baby eggplants into 1/2 or 1/4 longitudinally depending on size. Cut the globe eggplant into batons. Lay on a lined baking sheet and spray liberally with oil and season with salt and pepper. bake for 25-45 minutes depending on the size of the pieces, till charred and very soft.

Heat a large frying pan with the oil. fry the garlic till light golden. Add the cumin and fry for 20 seconds and add the eggplants. Top with honey, lime juice and sumac. Toss well to mix the honey and coat all the eggplants.

Serve hot garnished with more sumac.

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