Wednesday, 27 September 2017


My baby Olympia is very different to my first child Arabella. I know I am probably looking back with rose tinted glasses but I know for sure we never needed cupboard locks and stair gates etc. It is not the same with Olympia however.....I know she is going to be one of those children who will draw on the walls!!! Anyway our kitchen is now equipped with cupboard locks and even though they were initially super annoying, they are very beneficial health wise for us adults. It is such a hassle to open the cupboards, we have stopped eating so many biscuits and chocolate......extremely helpful for my husband!!

This recipe is from the Sunday Times magazine and it took about 50 minutes.

Ingredients for 4-6 people:

For the base:
4 (approx 250g) pitta breads, split open and cut into nacho-sized triangles (we actually used mini pittas)

For the topping:
500g Greek yoghurt
5 tbsp / 75g tahini, at room temperature
1-2 lemons, to give 3 tbsp of juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

For the aubergine-beef layer:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 aubergine (250g-300g), cut into small cubes
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika, plus more for sprinkling
500g minced beef

To sprinkle over:
125g pomegranate seeds
50g pine nuts, toasted
1 tbsp finely shredded mint leaves

The recipe says to preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan. Split open and cut the pittas into triangles and then spread them out onto a large baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes, or until they are crisp. I actually skipped this part and popped my pittas into a toaster and cut them after. Do whatever is easiest for you! Put them on a large plate and set aside.

Beat the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 tsp sea salt flakes together in a heatproof bowl that will later sit over a saucepan. I actually used a large china bowl that was easy to mix in and then transferred it to a smaller bowl after. It is really important the tahini is at room temperature, otherwise it is very hard to mix.

Warm the oil in a wide, shallow, heavy-based saucepan and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, over a medium to low heat for 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and carry on cooking, stirring every so often, until a soft pale colour. This will take another 4 minutes or so. I obviously didn't read the recipe properly, I used a frying pan and I think my heat was too high and so they were cooked through by about 5 minutes. We then had to move onto the next stage so they didn't burn!

Turn up the heat to medium and add the aubergine cubes and stir well to mix in with the onions. Cook for around 7-10 minutes, stirring regularly so it doesn't catch.

Stir in the cumin, coriander, Aleppo pepper / paprika and season with salt. Increase the heat to high and then add the mince. Use a fork to break it up a little in the pan, until it has lost its red colour. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 10 minutes until the meat is cooked through, stirring occasionally. Taste to see if you need anymore salt and then take off the heat while you return to the tahini-yoghurt sauce.

Meanwhile dry fry the pine nuts in a frying pan for a few minutes....keep your eye on them as they burn quickly!

Pour some freshly boiled water into a fresh pan, to around 3cm depth and put over a low heat. Ideally you want to sit the bowl with the tahini-yoghurt sauce on top, making sure it doesn't touch the water. My bowl didn't do this so I just plonked it in the water! Beat well until the yoghurt is slightly above room temperature and resembles a lightly whipped cream. My husband did this manually however I think it would have been easier to use an electric whisk.

Top the pitta triangles with the aubergine-beef mixture, followed by the tahini-yoghurt sauce. Sprinkle with the Aleppo pepper / paprika to give a light dusting. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and finally strew with the finely shredded mint leaves. Eat with your fingers, nacho-style or keep your fingers clean and use a knife and fork.

Just before we served this Pascal said to me - I don't like yoghurt! However he changed his mind once he started tucking in. It was really delicious, such great flavours and I love the way the pomegranate seeds literally pop in your mouth. It was quite messy though and we absolutely needed some cutlery. 

I would definitely do this again - I love Middle Eastern food but normally it needs an abundance of spices whereas this was quite straightforward. I will admit when I cook this next, I will make it even more simple and just use hummus rather than the tahini-yogurt sauce. A perfect quick supper or even dinner party starter. 

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