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No leftovers ever with this salad

Roasted Aubergine Salad ©Nimpipi

You’d think that eggplant and yogurt are a strange combination. But really, they're a match made in heaven. Just like wine and cheese. Or toast and butter. Or green eggs and ham.

Of course, there are plenty of Bengali and Bihari versions of aubergine and yogurt, but this version comes from one of my favourite books. You could call it a Mediterranean salad, am not sure whether it's worth the while to really classify it as anything less than perfection.

When you roast an aubergine, it’s somehow becomes sweeter. The skin is edible and lets the aubergine retain its shape. And cold roasted aubergine tastes great on a sandwich as well. Pine nuts, pomegranates and basil leaves add to the textural element.

Never ever do I have leftovers with this salad. It's normally the first thing to vanish off the table (maybe because it's so pretty) and even if there's a bit left, people end up nibbling on it right till the end. For the Sunday Brunch last weekend, I had to hide some for myself before I laid the salad out.

Light, refreshing and very satisfying, the saffron yogurt’s creamy texture lets you trick your mind into believing you’re eating a creamy dressing, but really, it’s so healthy (so there, you bad calories you) that you won't bother reaching out for anything else.

Try this salad, even if you're petrified of this fat, purple vegetable. If the image conjures up all the horrid things that your mother forced you to eat. Don't bother. This-Is-Nothing-Like-That. This IS perfection.

Adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook. Available in India, UK and US


For roasted eggplants
6 medium eggplants, cut into slices 2cm thick, or into wedges. I use 18 small eggplants if I can, it makes the salad more bite-sized and appealing
Olive oil for brushing
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

Saffron Yoghurt
A small pinch of saffron strands
3 tablespoons hot water
180g Greek yoghurt / hung curd. It’s hard to get greek yogurt in Delhi.
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the toppings/ garnish
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
A handful of pomegranate seeds
20 basil leaves

1. Hang the yogurt. Let it drain for atleast an hour. Overnight is best.

2. Preheat the oven to 220 degree centigrade.

3. Wash and dry the eggplants. Cut them in halves. With a paring knife make small crisscross incisions in the eggplant. This is so that the flavours soak in well later. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Roast the eggplants for 30 to 40 minutes until you can see the eggplants welt a bit and the slices take a beautiful light brown colour. Let it cool. At this stage you can store the roasted eggplants for 24 hours.

5. For the sauce, infuse the saffron in the hot water in a small bowl for 5 minutes. In another bowl whisk together the garlic, lemon juice, hung yogurt, olive oil and some salt. Add the saffron water. Stir and chill. At this point the sauce can be stored for upto 48 hours.

6. When you’re ready to serve. Lay the eggplants in a large plate. Drizzle the saffron yoghurt over them, sprinkle with the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds and lay the basil on top.

Note: I threw in some mixed leaves at the bottom so that the salad would have had more volume. You can keep the assembled salad in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

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