Eggplants get a bit of a hard time. True, they're not particularly forgiving - an undercooked eggplant has about as much charm as a raw potato - but handled well, they are incredibly versatile and one of my favourite vegetables. This eggplant salad is great with barbecued meat or poultry, especially if there's a nice char on the flesh. It marries well with marinades or dressings with Middle Eastern flavours.
4 large eggplants
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tahini
300g plain yoghurt
1 lemon, juiced
¼ bunch mint, picked
1 green chilli, sliced into rings
1 red chilli, sliced into rings
½ fresh pomegranate
1. Preheat a grill pan or barbecue.
2. Cut the eggplant into 1½-2cm-thick slices lengthways, season and brush with oil. Grill for a few minutes on each side then lie flat to cool. The eggplant should be just cooked but still holding its shape.
3. In a mortar and pestle, grind the cumin seeds coarsely. Add two good pinches of salt and briefly grind together. Grate the garlic on a Microplane and add to the cumin. Add the tahini, yoghurt and lemon juice, mix well.
4. Lie the eggplant on a serving dish. Spoon the dressing over, then scatter over the mint, chillies and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.