Aubergine with the works

An explosion of flavours! I really cannot recommend this Middle Eastern inspired dish enough.
Aubergine with the works - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul
Aubergine with the works
Aubergine with the works - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

The pictures don’t lie: This is absolutely delicious. What’s more: it’s really simple to make, too.

When I left London last summer, the city was in the middle of a really exciting time for Middle Eastern flavoured food. It was trendy – more so than posh burgers or tacos, even.

New restaurant openings were frequent, each with their own unique twist on the region’s long food traditions. It was at one of these joints I first realised how incredible a vehicle the aubergine is for other flavours.

This summer took me back to that moment. My Israeli friend Mor (without whom my food would quite probably be different today) was visiting and we were going to cook together. She insisted on roast cauliflower and aubergine with lots of toppings.

—It’s really tasty, she said.

And she was right. Of course she was right. Not that I ever doubted.

There’s something incredible luxurious about all these clean and simple flavours when they get to mingle just the moment you bite into it.

Every mouthful is different. One gets lots of tomato, and is tastily zingy.  Another has more of the earthiness and depth of tahini. A third gets the freshness and kick of the herb oil. Another one the crunchy sweetness of bright red pomegranate seeds.

Grab a little bit of everything and you’ll get an explosion of flavours you won’t forget any time soon.

Aubergine with the works - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

I’ve skipped the cauliflower and kept it simple with just the aubergine. I think it works even better.

And don’t let the amount of toppings to be prepared scare you: each takes no more than two minutes to prepare. As soon as you’ve grated a tomato and crushed a (small) clove of garlic you’re basically done.

Everything else is just whisking together a couple of ingredients here and there. No boiling, no frying, no special techniques. All you need is a few small bowls and a fork.

Oh, and you’ll have to boil an egg. If you want, that is.

If you prefer to keep it vegan, I promise it’s perfectly delicious without.

Aubergine with the works is a perfect addition to any meze table or even as a starter on its own when you have guests over. Or serve it for weekday dinner with some spiced chickpeas or fried meat, if you want. A little mid-week treat never hurt anyone, right?

The recipe serves 2-4, depending on what else is on offer.

Aubergine with the works - recipe / A kitchen in Istanbul

Aubergine with the works

An explosion of Middle Eastern flavours!
5 (2 ratings).
Main Course, Meze
Middle Eastern-inspired
30 minutes
4 servings
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  • 2 large aubergine (eggplant)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds

Grated tomato

  • 1 medium tomato, halved
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
  • salt and black pepper

Tahini sauce

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed to a paste with a little salt
  • 30 g tahini
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2–3 Tbsp water, or juices from the grated tomato
  • salt and black pepper

Herb oil

  • 15 g coriander (cilantro), or flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ green chili, deseeded if you like
  • 1 ½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper

How I make it

  • Prickle the aubergine with a fork in a few places and burn directly over a naked gas flame until blackened all over and soft on the inside, 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the aubergine. Turn occasionally. See notes below for alternative cooking methods.
  • When cool enough to handle, remove the burnt skin as best you can (use only your hands and under no circumstance be tempted to use running water). Or leave the skin on for dramatic effect (keeping in mind it makes it a little more tricky to eat).
  • Meanwhile, boil the egg to your liking. I prefer mine soft in the middle but otherwise firm and boil it for 7 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel and slice in half lengthways.
  • At the same time, grate the tomatoes cut-side down. Discard the skin. Mix the grated tomato with the tomato paste and chili flakes and season.
  • At the same time, mix the ingredients for the tahini sauce and season. Start with 2 Tbsp water or tomato juices and add more if necessary. The sauce should be runny but still be a sauce, not a liquid. If you want, you can substitute the tomato juices from the grated tomato for the water, it makes for an even tastier sauce.
  • At the same time, blitz the ingredients for the herb oil with a stick blender and season. If you don’t have a stick blender (or want to save on the dishes), just tear the coriander leaves from the stalks, thinly slice the chili and use as separate toppings instead of a herb oil.
  • Make an incision into the aubergines and unfold. Top with everything else: egg, grated tomato (I use a fork, leaving the runny juices behind), tahini sauce, herb oil (or coriander leaves and green chili slices) and pomegranate seeds. Reserve a little of each topping to make sure there’s more to add when the top layer is gone. Enjoy!

Tips & notes

If you don’t have a gas stove og gas barbecue available, bake in the oven on maximum temperature until the aubergine is collapsed and is completely soft on the inside, 30-60 minutes. Turn at least once during cooking.
Did you make this recipe?I’d love it if you’d be kind enough to leave a rating and a short comment.

Hey, there!

I’m Vidar, a Norwegian food writer based in Istanbul since 2015.

Join me in exploring the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East.

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Hey, there!

I’m Vidar Bergum, a food writer based in Istanbul since 2015. I’ve published three books on the food and cultures of Turkey and the Middle East in my native Norway.

This website and my newsletter Meze are the homes of my writing and recipes in English.

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One Response

  1. This is delicious! Pomegranate is not in season where I live and I can understand it would have been an excellent addition. We had this for breakfast with some toasted sourdough bread on the side. Thanks!

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