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Brig’s Bites: Aubergine with couscous

6 mins read

This recipe is an accessible recipe for any student at any skill level. It is also a great one for the student budget. Believe me, I have made this recipe at family gatherings with judgemental relatives, and I have made this for my friends as well. Everyone enjoys a little bit of aubergine in their life. So, here we go! 

Prep time: 20 min  

Cooking time: 30 min  

Skill level: ★☆☆☆☆ 

Ingredients:  

  • 1 aubergine  
  • 500ml water  
  • 2 tbsp salt  
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1 tsp pepper  
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika  
  • 1 tsp oregano  
  • 1 tsp chilli  
  • 1 tbsp olive oil  
  • 100 g couscous  
  • 80 ml boiled water 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil  
  • 1 onion  
  • 1 pepper  
  • 1 courgette  
  • 1 vegetable cube (optional) 
  • 1 Tbsp tomato or paprika paste (optional) 
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1 tsp pepper  
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika  

Method:  

Step one:  

Pre-heat the oven at 200°C degrees. Prepare a big bowl with water and add the two tablespoons of salt. Wash the aubergine and cut it in half. Place the aubergine in the water and let it soak for about 15 mins. This will take out the bitterness out of the vegetable and enables the addition of spices effectively.  

Step two:  

Dry the aubergine halves and score each one of them with a knife. Mix up all the spices in a bowl. Spread the spices on the aubergine surface and rub the halves together so that the spices can spread evenly. Put some olive oil on the aubergine halves. Put both on a baking tray with baking paper and let them grill in the oven for about 30 minutes. You will know that they are done when you test the flesh with a fork and see if it is soft. 

Step three:  

Put the stove on low-heat and start heating the pan. Add the olive oil afterwards. Chop up the onions in small cubes and start frying them. After they have started to become translucent, add the spices, the vegetable cube and the tomato/ paprika paste (if you have some available). Turn up the heat on medium heat. Chop up the rest of the vegetables and stir them while they get fried.  

Step four:  

Add the couscous to the vegetable and spice mix and stir it for about 3 minutes. Add the boiled water and turn the heat off. Try to use as little water as possible since you won`t drain it. If you need more, you can always add some later. The couscous will soak the water up quickly. Put the lid on and let the couscous steam for about five mins.  

Step five:  

Get the aubergine out of the oven. Plate the vegetable couscous with the aubergines. Feel free to serve with a sauce on top. I usually drizzle some vegan yoghurt. There you go! Enjoy the Mediterranean finesse! 

Secrets to elevate your cooking:  

  1. Always, and I mean always, soak your aubergines in salted water. The vegetable tends to be bitter, and the salty water neutralises the flavour so the aubergine can take in the spices in the recipe afterwards.  
  1. The base of Turkish cooking is spices, olive oil (a lot of it) and onions. Whatever you choose to do with the rest of the recipe is a thing of preference. If you nail this recipe once you can leave out stuff, add other vegetables, and try out new techniques.  
  1. Don’t follow the guide on the couscous packaging. This is how you make fluffy couscous. The reason why Turks fry their grains is to add flavour through spices and to ensure a nice airy consistency. If you boil your couscous, you will only make it soggy.  
  1. Add the spices to the oil and fry them with the onions as a base. This mix will be the fundament of your Mediterranean meal. It ensures flavour from the beginning. In this way you infuse the oil with the spices you want. Afterwards, that oil can coat the rest of your ingredients and make everything super tasty! 

Featured image credit: Aysun Bora

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