I knew it would contain recipes for things I didn’t even know I wanted to eat. Eggplant that has been perfectly seasoned and roasted into submission, topped with a nutty, sweet, briny grain. Finished with Greek yogurt. Mission accomplished!
The only ingredient I could not find (or make) in time was the preserved lemon peel and it’s hard to feel badly about that because this dish was so successful it’s impossible to imagine it being any better.
The yummy concoction you smear on your bisected eggplant is chermoula, “a powerful North African paste that is brushed over fish and vegetables, giving them the perfumed aroma of preserved lemon [or not], mixed with heat and spice.” You will be tempted to chermoula everything that’s not moving after you try it.
The bulgur is easy: pour some boiling water over the grains and let it absorb. I was skeptical that 2/3 cup of water was sufficient for 1 cup bulgur and i was right — I probably doubled it. Mix in some raisins, herbs, nuts, olives, scallions and lemon juice and you’re ready to spoon it over your tender eggplant and dollop with yogurt. Keep in mind that the bulgur can easily stand on its own.
The textures and flavors and scents going in this dish all contribute to its appeal and you can see how pretty it is. Obviously it’s vegetarian but leave out the yogurt and it’s also vegan.
Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur and Yogurt is on page 59 of Jerusalem. It is also here in The Guardian but it’s written in British so you need to know that an “aubergine” is an eggplant that’s much more fun to say, “yoghurt” contains its vestigial ‘h,’ and bulgur is spelled the way I’ve been spelling it all along, “bulgar.” Oh and coriander is the same as cilantro and sultanas are raisins with a sexier name.