Some things never go out of fashion—this combination of eggplant, tomatoes, and chickpeas is one of them. This is an excellent dish for a cold autumn day and always hits the spot.
Serves 4 as a main dish
1¼ cups basmati rice
3 medium eggplants (roughly 2 pounds), halved and cut into ¼-inch slices
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 pound ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
11/3 teaspoons ground red chile
1½ teaspoons salt (or to taste)
1 x 14-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1½ cups vegetable stock
Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then leave to soak.
Meanwhile, put 4 tablespoons of oil into a large frying pan over medium to high heat. When hot, add a small batch of the eggplants, just enough to lay on the bottom of the pan without crowding. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until soft, collapsing, and (hopefully) nicely browned on the outside, turning every couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate, then fry the rest, adding more oil per batch.
In the same pan, melt the butter, add the onion, and fry for around 8 minutes. Remove a tablespoonful of onion to scatter over the top of the rice later. Add the garlic to the pan, fry for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cook for around 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are softened, then add the cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, cloves, ground red chile, and salt. Stir well, then add the chickpeas and the eggplants. Cook for a couple of minutes, and take it off the heat.
Pour the vegetable stock into a deep saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Drain the rice, add to the vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes, then cover with the lid, turn the heat right down, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender. Turn the heat off and let the rice steam through for 5 minutes. Fluff up the rice using a fork before folding in the eggplants and chickpeas. Mix well and heat together for a couple of minutes, then take off the heat.
Transfer to a serving dish, scatter over the reserved onion, and serve with a cooling dollop of yogurt and a little pickle on the side.