First posted: Apr 4, 2016

Roasted Aubergines with Cumin Spiced Beef and Za’atar


Guys! Have you ever made your own Za’atar? It’s a beautiful thing. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s is a Middle Eastern spice mix (with endless uses), and while there are lots of variations on the ingredients and quantities, the main ones are usually sumac (a tangy, lemony, rich earth-red spice), thyme and sesame seeds. The result is a punchy, interesting blend of flavours that adds magic to anything from hummus to roasted vegetables, flatbreads, chicken or fish. Here, I’ve used it to dress up Aubergines that have been roasted until almost charred, and are perfectly creamy inside. They are then topped with cumin-spiced minced beef and crowned with a scattering of the Za’atar mix. Oh, and creamy yoghurt and a few pretty pomegranate rubies to really turn everything into a party on your plate.



Cooks in:        Serves:4

For the Minced Beef
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp butter
  • 250g lamb, beef or chicken mince
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 level tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 heaped cup roughly chopped tomato
  • Healthy sweetener of your choice, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Aubergines
  • 4 medium aubergines, halved lengthways
  • 1/2 cup full fat Greek yoghurt
  • 2 Tbsp slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted
  • Fresh mint, to garnish
  • Pomegranate rubies, to garnish
  • Avocado, to serve alongside (optional)
For the Za'atar Spice Mix
  • 1 Tbsp sumac
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs (or just thyme)
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • Mix together and store in a small glass jar

What to do

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200C, drizzle your Aubergines with a little olive oil and place on a non-stick baking tray.

2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam add in the minced meat and cook until golden, 4-5 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients except the tomatoes, and cook until the onion has softened, a further 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and then leave to cook gently with the lid on for a further 25-30 minutes.

3. When the oven reaches temperature, add in the Aubergines and leave to cook for 30-40 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.

4. When the Aubergines are cooked, remove from the oven and serve immediately on warmed plates. Spoon over some of the cooked mince and yoghurt, then add mint leaves, nuts and pomegranate rubies to garnish.

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