Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 21, 2021

© Jonathan Lovekin

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Chermoula eggplant with bulgur and yogurt

Historically, bulgur was rural people’s food in the Middle East, while rice was for more affluent city folk. Still, it was a staple to many Palestinians. Today, it’s popular for salads and mezes.

Chermoula is a North African paste that gives fish and vegetables the aroma of preserved lemon mixed with spice. Here, the eggplants are combined with a sweet and salty bulgur salad for a modest vegetarian feast.

2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp. (10 ml) ground cumin
2 tsp. (10 ml) ground coriander
1 tsp. (5 ml) chili flakes
1 tsp. (5 ml) sweet paprika
2 tbsp. (30 ml) finely chopped (homemade or store-bought) preserved lemon peel
2/3 c. (160 ml) olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 medium eggplants
1 c. (250 ml) fine bulgur
2/3 c. (160 ml) boiling water
1/3 c. (80 ml) golden raisins
3 tbsp. (45 ml) warm water
1/2 c. (150 ml) fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra to finish
1/3 c. (80 ml) fresh mint, chopped
1/3 c. (80 ml) pitted green olives, halved
1/3 c. (80 ml) sliced almonds, toasted
3 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp. (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c. (125 ml) Greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

To make the chermoula, mix together in a small bowl the garlic, cumin, coriander, chili, paprika, lemon peel, two-thirds of the olive oil and a ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt.

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the flesh of each with deep, diagonal crisscross scores, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place on a baking sheet cut side up. Put in the oven and roast for 40 minutes or until the eggplants are completely soft. Meanwhile, place the bulgur in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water.

Soak the raisins in the warm water. After 10 minutes, drain and add to the bulgur, along with the remaining oil. Add the herbs, olives, almonds, green onions, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and stir to combine.

Serve the eggplants warm or at room temperature. Place half of an eggplant, cut side up, on each individual plate. Spoon the bulgur on top, allowing some to fall from both sides. Add some yogurt, sprinkle with cilantro and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Serves 4 as a main course.

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