The Middle East has some beautiful Mediterranean ingredients that are quite unique to the region – and not everything is about Shawarma or Hummus. There is so much more – like Za’atar (a spice mix using dried herbs and seeds), Labneh (a smooth creamy yoghurt with no whey), Pomegranate Mollasses (a sour sticky syrup), Date Syrup (made from pure dates). Over the course of my time in Dubai, I picked up many of these ingredients and absolutely enjoyed experimenting with them. As part of the Puck Arabia series, I had to work with Labneh in a unique way. And I took inspiration from Ottolenghi without having ever made or tasted his iconic eggplant dish. If you don’t like eggplants and really want to try to like it, this is a must try. And, it is pretty easy.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Cut the eggplant into two halves, lengthwise. Score them with a knife and rub some salt into them and keep aside. In the meanwhile, in a pan, put in 1 tbsp oil, add the garlic and onions and mix well.
Once the eggplant releases some water, wash it and pat it dry and then marinate in a little oil and salt (adjust according to taste). Put it into the oven for 20 minutes or till just done but it holds its shape.
Now, scoop out some of the meat from the middle (take care to not tear the skin at the bottom) and cut it up and mix it with the onion mixture. Stuff the whole mixture back into the eggplant. And put it back into the warm oven.
Now, whip the labneh/hung/greek yogurt well. And spoon gently over the grilled eggplant. Sprinkle with slivered pistachios and a dash of olive oil.