Aubergine, black sesame yogurt, zhoug, fried capers

Aubergine, black sesame yogurt, zhoug, fried capers

Serves 4
2 small aubergines
Black sesame yogurt:
100g black sesame seeds
100g yogurt
juice of ½ lemon
110g fresh red chillies, deseeded and chopped
40g fresh coriander, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 cardamom seeds, ground
150ml extra virgin olive oil
Fried capers:
100g capers
vegetable oil
fresh coriander leaves


Preheat the oven to 200°C fan.

To make the black sesame yogurt, toast the sesame seeds until fragrant. Blend them to a smooth paste in a food processor – this may take 10–15 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of this black tahini to the yogurt and stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt, taste and add a little more tahini if desired. (Leftover black sesame paste keeps well and can be used like tahini.)

To make the zhoug, put the chillies, fresh coriander, garlic and ground cardamom in a food processor and blend to a finely minced texture. Add the oil and a little salt and pulse a couple times to mix without fully emulsifying. The texture of this zhoug is very finely chopped to give a green and red flecked sauce/dressing. Blending it further can result in a purée that easily turns brown. Taste and add more salt if required. Keeps for two days in the fridge.

To prepare the fried capers, drain the capers and pat them dry. Heat some vegetable oil in a deep-fryer or a large, wide, heavy-based pot to 170°C. Add the capers and fry until they stop sizzling, then remove them to a tray lined with kitchen paper to dry and cool fully. Keeps for a few days in a dry airtight container.

Slice the aubergines in half lengthways. Brush both sides with olive oil, season well with salt and place on a parchment-lined oven tray. Roast for 12–15 minutes, until browned and fully cooked.

To serve, spread 1 tablespoon of black sesame yogurt on each plate. Place one aubergine half on top, cut side up. Spread some zhoug on the aubergines and sprinkle over some fried capers and coriander leaves.

Paradiso book cover, with a gold turnip on a burnt orange background

From Paradiso: Recipes and Reflections by Denis Cotter

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