I recently received a comment from a new blogger who has just moved to Ukraine, and was bemoaning the lack of inspiration to be found in the Ukrainian shopping aisles. I hear ya Kristina!
In the summers of Kyiv, the foods at the markets are abundant and varied (though perhaps not this year, as there’s a drought). My local market was Volodymyrska Rinok (metro: Palats Ukraina). The berry season was rather spectacular, but the vegetables were amazing too – tomatoes, salads, herbs, eggplant/aubergine, zucchini/cougette, cumumbers etc etc etc. Much of the produce was local (i.e. from Ukraine), some was imported but still relatively local (Poland, Crimea), and some was just plain imported (bananas from Equador, anyone?)
After a winter of frozen and canned food, it really was quite overwhelming to be confronted with such an array of fruity goodness! I was determined to make the most of the produce, and thus I present Imam Bayildi!
2 medium eggplants/aubergines
50 mL olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and cut lengthways
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 tomatoes, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pepper and salt to taste
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
300 mL water
optional: 4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt, pine nuts to garnish
Preheat oven to 180C.
Cut the eggplants in half, lengthways. Score the flesh inside and scoop out, leaving about half a centremetre of flesh inside. Set the eggplants aside.
Heat the oil in a pan. Fry the scooped out flesh for a few minutes, until starting to soften. Add the garlic, onions, cumin, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer in the pan for a few minutes.
Arrange the eggplant ‘shells’ in a baking pan. Scoop the tomato mixture into the shells. Add the water to the baking pan, and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure the water hasn’t dried up, if it has, add a little more.
Take out of the oven, arrange on plate. Sprinkle with parsley and, if you choose, yoghurt and pine nuts to serve. (Can be accompanied by rice). Serves 2.
(Note: leftovers can be frozen. Leftovers can also be sliced into strips and mixed through pasta).