This Monday is yet another that I would like to dedicate to Turkish cooking. Surprised? Some of you might start to wonder where this fascination for Turkish cuisine comes from, and the answer to that is: Turkish cooking is close to my heart because its flavors bring memories from home. To clarify, my home is Macedonia, a small country located in the center of the Balkans. We share a big chunk of our history with Turkey as we were under the Ottoman empire for 500 years, hence not surprisingly our food, culture and mentality assimilates those of Turkey and not so much of Eastern Europe as some of you might be tempted to think. Our ethnicity is Slav but our character, tradition and warmth is Balkan- a mixture of East, Middle East and inescapably Ottoman.
Our signature flavours are aubergine’s smokiness, tomato’s sweet warmth and pepper’s heat; nearly every vegetable dish contains at least one of these three. Because these flavours are so rich together most dishes combine two or all three. Today’s dish is aubergine with sweet tomato sauce, a typical appetizer or meze dish in both Turkey and Macedonia- it complements the season perfectly; stronger flavours go well with the end of summer! Typically a couple of meze (appetizer) dishes are served at once for everyone at the table to share. Most of them are dipping dishes and go extremely well with warm bread, feta cheese and yogurt.
Kirmizi soslu patlican- Aubergine in tomato sauce
2 large aubergines
400 ml sunflower oil for frying
3 large tomatoes
8 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. tomato puree
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
Salt and black pepper
- Using a citrus fruit zester, peel the aubergine skin into stripes. Slice the aubergines lengthways and leave them in salted water for an our (method that removes the bitterness of aubergines)
- Prep vegetables for the sauce. Core and score tomatoes, dip them into boiling water for 15 seconds and refresh them into ice water. Remove the skin and chop them.
- Crush the garlic and mix it with salt. I crushed them using a rolling pin but you can crush them in a stone bowl using a stone handle to beat them
- Put all ingredients in a sauce pan (except for parsley; otherwise parsley will oxidize and loose its lovely green color) cook at low heat for 40 min, stirring occasionally.
- Heat the oil for frying and fry the aubergines until golden brown. Take out one by one and line them nicely onto couple of pieces of kitchen paper to absorb the oil. Season with salt
- Check seasoning of tomato sauce, chop the parsley, sprinkle all over
- In a starter plate place aubergines and spread the sauce on top. Garnish with a piece of parsley.