Aubergine chickpea tagine

Aubergine, Chickpea Tagine with flaked almond cous cous & harissa
(Recipe by Daniel Acevedo)
2 cm ginger
1-2 red chillies
3 aubergines
200-300 ml sunflower oil/veg oil

1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 star anise
1 pinch saffron

3 tins (720g) good quality crushed tomatoes
150g green olives pitted
2 tins (480g) good quality chickpeas
1 tsp salt

Before we start I would like to explain why this recipe contains no garlic or onions.  Over the recent years working as head chef here at Mildred’s restaurant I have noticed an increase in the demand for people requesting food not containing anything from the onion family.

This dish is fairly mild in spice so feel free to add more or less chilli to your liking.  The star anise and saffron in this recipe gives it a unique taste and makes it stand out above your regular tagine.

For better results with this recipe please source quality tinned tomatoes and roasted red peppers from your local deli or even better buy the equivalent weight in very ripe plum tomatoes and red peppers from the market, with tomatoes dice or give a quick blend in a food processor before adding to your tagine, with your red peppers lightly coat with oil, and roast on a high heat in the oven to blister the skin of the peppers, remove from oven and place in a bowl or plastic container covering with cling film to steam the peppers, allow to cool, peel and de-seed peppers ready to use for your harissa sauce.

Time allowing, your chickpeas can also be bought dried from your local deli and soaked overnight about half the amount of dried chickpeas will yield the same amount once cooked so approx 240g.  Drain and cook these chickpeas in 3-4 cups lightly salted water for 1 ½ - 2 hours or until tender.

Prepare your harissa first and allow to cool before starting your tagine and cous cous.

1. Pre heat oven at 180c, cut aubergine in half length ways then into quarters again cut these pieces in half again giving you aubergine wedges approx 7 cm long and 2cm wide, in an oven tray generously coat aubergines with sunflower/veg oil and toss to make sure all the pieces are oiled.  Bake for 15-25 min until aubergines are fully cooked.  

2.  Wash or peel the ginger to clean, then along with the chilli finely dice and crush with a chef’s knife into a smooth paste.   Alternatively you can blend this in a food processor to achieve the same result.  In a medium sized pot over a low heat lightly fry your paste for 7-8 min

3.  Lightly Toast your coriander, cumin, and star anise seeds in the same manner as your harissa spices, grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder and add to ginger chilli mix along with your pinch of saffron and fry further for a few min.

4.  Add crushed tomatoes, salt and simmer on low heat for 20min

5.  Drain your chickpeas and add to the tagine along with your cooked aubergines and simmer  on a very low heat for a further 10-15 min(at this time you’re ready to prepare your cous cous, see recipie below).   

6.  Remove Tagine from heat and serve with cous cous,  garnish with some fresh coriander  and a side of harissa.

Flaked almond Cous cous

400g cous cous
450ml water
2 tsp Vegetable stock powder
50g toasted flaked almonds
1 pickled lemon very finely diced
100ml lemon juice
100ml extra light olive oil
Pinch of Salt & Pepper

1. Boil water along with pickled lemons, salt and pepper
2. Once water has come to the boil remove from heat and add your cous cous along with lemon juice & olive oil, mixing thoroughly,  cover and allow to sit for 15-20 min.

400g roasted peppers or good quality tinned roasted red peppers
2 chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
50ml  extra light olive oil
To roast the peppers, simply scorch over an open flame, on a chargrill or under the grill in your oven until the skins are blistered and black. Put in a bowl and cover with clingfilm so they steam. When cool enough to handle, then skins should come away easily. 

1. Lightly Toast your cumin seeds in a pan on the lowest heat setting for 4-5 min, adding the smoked paprika  at the last min for a light toasting, remove from heat and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder.

2.  Drain your peppers and blend in a food processor along with your chillies, spices, salt and oil for 5-10 min until you have a very smooth sauce.  You can also pass the harissa through a small to fine sieve for a smoother result.

3. Set aside and allow to cool

Serve all three together with some warm flat bread.