Aubergines and tomatoes

Elena Heatherwick

This is such an easy, but satisfying and silky vegetarian dish. I’ve never cooked aubergines in butter before, so this was a real revelation. We tried in in Lenkoran, South of Azerbaijan. There are so many excellent aubergine and tomato dishes all over the world, but this one slipped down so easily, and we just couldn’t figure out what it was that made it so extra moorish. Clarified butter and a copious amount of roughly chopped and caramelised garlic. Of course you can use oil, but, trust me, clarified butter makes it taste so unusual but strangely not heavy or buttery in a French way. We honestly couldn’t figure it out until we were told what it was. Make a big pot and eat it hot or warm with a hunk of lovely bread and bunches of herbs like dill and coriander. Try sourcing

Serves 6

  • 6 baby aubergines or 3 large ones
  • 6 medium flavoursome tomatoes, halved across the equator
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 100ml clarified butter
  • 200ml of water or vegetable (or chicken!) stock
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

To serve

  • a small bunch of each or any of the following: dill, coriander, basil
  • some lavash flatbreads or similar
  1. If you are using baby aubergines, take the tail off and then make two incisions as if you were to quarter them lengthways, but do not cut until the end. Then sprinkle some salt inside the incisions and leave in a colander. If you are using large ones, slice them lengthways into 4 or 6 wedges and salt them in a similar way. Leave them for an hour if you have time.
  2. Now heat 2 tbsp clarified butter in a thick-bottomed casserole pan and fry the aubergines until the are well-browned all over. The skin will blister and the white flesh turn golden brown and crispy. Take them out and set aside.Do not clean the pan.
  3. Now heat another 2 tbsp of butter in the same pan and add the tomatoes cut-side down. Cook them just on that side over a high heat until they catch some colour and the skins loo wrinkled. Using a pear of tongs lift the skins off the tomatoes and discard. Take the tomatoes out and pop them in with the aubergines for now.
  4. In the same pan, heat another 2 tbsp clarified butter and over medium heat – fry the garlic. Keep stirring it. You want it to turn deep golden, but not burnt. Tilt the pan so the butter and garlic collect in one corner – this way you will confit it. It will take about 2-5 minutes. The smell will be incredible as the garlic looses its harshness and becomes soft, sweet and gently caramelised.
  5. Now return the aubergines and tomatoes to the pan and add the liquid. Do try chicken stock if you are not vegetarian – it adds an extra layer of flavour. Water is absolutely fine though if you want this to remain as hassle free as possible. Season with salt and pepper and cook over a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Serve with pieces of torn lavash or any other flatbread or regular bread, or simple rice. It is really lovely eaten with some simple sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and some sprigs of fresh herbs.