Baharat is the Turkish word for ‘spice’, but it is also a mixture used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s an aromatic and fairly kick-ass combination of cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom and is easily bought as a ready-made blend, but is great to make at home too. It transforms oven-baked aubergine/eggplant slices into something incredible, and when they’re served alongside caramel-sweet dates, salty feta and slightly sharp physalis berries and a sesame paste and yogurt sauce, the result is quite positively, a coup de maitre (which is French for something like ‘a stroke of genius’). A peppery rocket/arugula salad makes a great accompaniment.
- Yield: 3 Servings
- 1–2 tbsp baharat spice mix
- 3½ tbsp (50 ml) olive oil
- 1 aubergine/eggplant, thinly sliced
- ⅔ cup (100 g) medjool dates, stoned/pitted and halved
- 3 tbsp date syrup
- 7 oz (200 g) feta cheese
- 3½ oz (100 g) fresh physalis berries, halved
- mint leaves, to garnish
- generous ½ cup (120 g) full-fat natural/plain yogurt
- 1–2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1 generous tbsp tahini paste
- ½ lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F) Gas 5. Mix the baharat spice with the olive oil and paint this liberally over the aubergine/eggplant slices. Arrange them on a sheet pan and bake for about 15–20 minutes, until they are soft and a rich golden brown.
- In the meantime, mix the dates with the date syrup and a splash of hot water and leave them to plump up while the aubergine/eggplant is in the oven.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Break the feta cheese into chunks and scatter it over the aubergine/eggplant slices. Arrange the dates here and there, drizzle the syrup over the aubergine/eggplant slices, and return everything to the oven for just 5 minutes, to warm through.
- In the meantime, for the tahini yogurt, beat the yogurt, garlic, tahini paste and lemon juice together until smooth. Set aside.
- Remove the sheet pan from the oven, and dot the physalis halves here and there. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve warm, with the tahini yogurt.