New Year’s Eve saw my first foray into recipes from my new cookbook ‘Persiana’ by Sabrina Ghayour and once again, it was the picture that enticed me into going down to Kadıköy in quest of pickled chillies. Despite sleet, wind and downright disagreeable weather, off I went.
I’m pretty good at making do, substituting or just omitting ingredients, but I felt like savouring the New Year’s Eve atmosphere in traditional Kadıköy and this gave me the motivation. We had thought we’d be in Assos for the 31st but because of the dire weather, decided to be cautious and stay put. This turned out to be a wise decision.
So I set out to make something different – festive and cheerful. First things first, you need to get your griddle pan nice and hot:
The picture at the top is the Turkified version ie minus the saffron in the yogurt. Instead, I simply crushed a garlic clove into the yogurt and drizzled that over my aubergine slices.
Here is the saffron version:
By cutting the aubergines into rounds, the dish had an instantly different look to what we are used to here where traditionally they would be sliced lengthways. I think this is a great looking dish and a cinch to prepare. Personally I like the yellowish yogurt: it makes it different!
BTW you do know, don’t you, that what they call Turkish Saffron down in the Spice Market is fake? They will try to persuade you to buy it but you must only buy saffron from Iran, the real deal. Yes, it’s much more expensive but that price is an indicator. Another BTW: it really isn’t the season for aubergines, honestly it isn’t. They are the queen of the summer vegetables. I only bought them because I really really wanted to make this dish!
- Preheat a griddle pan over a medium-high heat. Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil on one side and chargrill them for approximately 6-8 minutes on each side, brushing the reverse side with more oil as you turn them over, until the texture softens and they are cooked through with nice griddle marks. Set aside.
- Using a pestle and mortar, grind the saffron to a powder, then pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes. Once done, put the cooled saffron water into the yogurt along with the garlic oil and a generous seasoning of sea salt and mix well. If you want to slacken the yogurt mixture, stir in up to 5 tbsp water.
- Arrange the aubergine slices on a platter, drizzle liberally with the saffron yogurt, scatter over the chopped parsley and top with the thin slices of pickled chillies. Sprinkle with the nigella seeds and serve.