Street Food Inspired Curry & Caper Stuffed Aubergines

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London has been thriving with street food this summer which has been eclectic in terms of cuisines and also with plenty of veggie/vegan options.
This recipe is inspired by a barbecued harissa aubergine dish I had at Paperworks in South London which is an open air space, with a different street food stall each week.

For us Londoners life is slowly moving back indoors in preparation for a good 7 months of cold, dreary drizzle so I have made this dish as a way of reminiscing about the days of barbecues and outdoor living whilst hibernating indoors and filling up on some good wholesome comfort food.

Ingredients- Serves 2

(with 1 portion of curry mix left over for another day)

1 large aubergine
Olive/sunflower oil
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
Ground turmeric (2 tablespoons)
Curry powder (2 tablespoons)
1 red onion (sliced)
Tomato puree (1 tablespoon)
1/2 can of pre-cooked chickpeas (in water)
Capers (1-2 tablespoons)
Walnuts (handful-chopped)
Cashew nuts (handful-chopped)
Brown rice (150g)
1 vegetable stock cube
*Seasoning* – salt, pepper, tomato ketchup <– an optional cheat to be explained later!


Method (30 mins)

image(17)1.*To prep* Preheat oven to 180 degrees and boil a kettle full of water for the rice.

2.Half the aubergine and (using a good sharp knife) cut around the center of each half and scoop the mixture out using a spoon (finely chop & set aside to use in the curry later). Be careful not to cut through the skin whilst doing this as it will cause the curry mixture to leak later on.

3.Rub each aubergine half with oil, salt and pepper, place on baking tray and get them in the oven to pre-cook without the mixture for a while as an undercooked aubergine will make this dish rather rubbery!

4.Cover rice (+an inch) with water, add a vegetable stock cube to the water to give the rice some extra flavour. Bring the rice to the boil for 5 minutes then turn down to a simmer for a further 20 mins. This should be cooked and ready once the aubergines are finished but keep an eye on it and add more hot water if necessary.

5.Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the finely chopped garlic along with half the turmeric and curry powder (+salt and pepper seasoning to taste), this should form a paste, add a touch more oil if it looks dry and like it may burn.

6.Add the onion and left-over aubergine to the paste and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly.

7.Add around 1/2 a mug full of hot water to the pan, along with the tomato puree, chickpeas, capers and the rest of the turmeric and curry powder. Keep stirring regularly.

8. Cook the curry mixture for a further 5 mins and taste. If the mixture tastes a little bitter this is where I cheat and add a quick squirt of ketchup which adds a touch of sweetness.

9.Remove the aubergine halves from the oven (they should be looking quite brown and crispy by now) and spoon in generous amounts of the curry mix. Place under a medium heat grill for 7-10 mins whilst assembling the final element of the dish.

10.Toast the walnuts and cashews in a pan (no oil) with a sprinkling of coarse sea salt and toast until brown. Keep a strong eye on them though as they have a tendency to go from 0-burnt in just a few seconds.

11.Assemble! Very carefully plate up the aubergines using a spatula (they can be quite delicate) and the rice and sprinkle over the salty toasted nuts.

12.Enjoy with a cold beer, check out Barnivore for a list of vegan friendly beers.

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