This Roasted Aubergine with Pomegranate Molasses & Pul Biber recipe is incredibly simple but the perfect addition to a mezze feast. The flesh is scored before roasting for maximum flavour & it is equally great cooked directly over charcoal.
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I feel like aubergines are an oft overlooked side dish just like onions. As it happens, I’m not the biggest fan of them in things. I find that aubergine can have a odd texture in stews and curries.
But I love them roasted or cooked on the barbeque. They get a great smoky flavour and the texture becomes soft and yielding. But with enough crispy bits to satisfy my need for texture.
There are some ingredients that just lend themselves to certain cuisines. Avocados take me to Mexico via Guacamole. Edamame Beans take me straight to Japan and aubergines lead me directly to the Middle East. I see an aubergine and immediately make myself some Hummus and find a flatbread. And quite possibly some lamb. And probably some couscous.
Now I know in my head that I lump a few distinct culinary traditions into one when I think of “Middle Eastern”. My tastebuds span from Lebanon to Israel, Egypt to Turkey and several countries in between. And that’s ok. Pretty much nothing on Feast Glorious Feast claims to be authentic!
But there are certain seasonings which are synonymous with that region and related cuisine. Sumac (a deep purple lemon tasting spice), tahini (sesame paste), pomegranate molasses, pul biber/aleppo pepper and garlic are the ones that I use the most. Along with good olive oil, chickpeas and lamb. Not to mention a whole array of glorious breads.
In this aubergine recipe I have concentrated on featuring pomegranate molasses for its sweet tangyness and pul biber for its mild smoky spice. They complement the roasting method and smoky flesh perfectly.
How to Serve Roasted Aubergine
You can serve this aubergine hot or cold although I do personally prefer it hot.
The skin isn’t really edible so you just scoop the flesh right out of the skins. You can serve the aubergine for the person eating to do the scooping themselves like I have. Or you can scoop and serve. It does look prettier served in the skin but it tastes the same either way!
Make Roasted Aubergine into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
As I’ve mentioned, I rarely eat Aubergine without Hummus and some good bread. Whilst not necessarily aimed to be in the middle Eastern culinary tradition, my Chilli and Oregano Soda Bread is actually a great accompaniment. And 99% of the time I make my lemon and coriander couscous to go with it.
A really great mezze platter is a glorious thing. As well as hummus and couscous, I also like to include griddled vegetables like peppers and courgette/zucchini, flatbreads, fresh picked red onions, salad leaves, lamb koftas, fresh tomatoes and some kind of sauce like a yogurt and tahini dip.
I dare you to call that platter anything but a feast!
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Roasted Aubergine
Also known as Eggplants, aubergines are actually a member of the tomato family. Look at the frilly bit around the stalk and you can see the similarity. That is pretty much where the similarity ends however. There are lots of different varieties available but the most common is the smooth skinned dark purple variety.
Once upon a time you needed slice and then salt aubergines. This drew out some of the flesh and reduced the bitterness of the vegetable. But aubergines, like many of our commercial crops have been bred to have more desirable flavour profiles. As that bitterness now largely doesn’t exist, the salting exercise is not now required.
Pomegranate molasses is simply pomegranate juice that has been reduced down until it is a sticky syrup. The natural sugars in the juice provides some sweetness but the overall flavour is a little sour.
It is rich, tasty and a brilliant seasoning in middle eastern dishes. It is also relatively inexpensive and available in supermarkets as well at independent stores like Turkish delis and wholefood stores.
You can skip the pomegranate molasses entirely if you need to. Or substitute pekmez. This is a similar sauce made by reducing grape musk instead of pomegranate. Another option would be to use a good thick balsamic vinegar. The flavour isn’t quite the same but it has a similar sweet/sour flavour that would still work.
Aleppo pepper is simply dried flakes of a specific chilli. It is also known as Pul Biber and Haleb Biber. It has a little bit of a kick but not too much and quite sweet fragrant taste.
I not only use it in middle eastern dishes but now quite regularly use it in place of chilli flakes in dishes like my Edamame Beans and White Bean Chili. For a similar flavour without any of the heat, you could substitute sumac which is also a fab spice for using in this cuisine.
It is easy to take the basic premise of scoring and roasting an aubergine and mix up the flavour profile to match whatever you are cooking. I would make sure to use some kind of oil but other than that, the spices and seasonings you use can easily be varied.
The dry rub that I use on my Mexican Ribs would make an excellent seasoning to complement any number of American inspired dishes. The combination of seasonings on my Ginger and Chilli Courgettes would make the aubergines into a fab side dish for any Asian inspired feast too.
Rather than roasting, the aubergine could also be cooked over open flame. Or a gas flame. When doing this I generally start with the aubergines halves flesh side down. until nicely charred. I then turn them skin side up and move them to a cooler bit of the grill to cook through. Delicious.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
These roasted eggplants are naturally vegetarian and vegan with no substitutions required.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from egg, dairy, gluten and nuts. Wahey!
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for Roasted Aubergine
You don’t really need measuring spoons although if you are a big fan of very specific measurements, you can follow the recipe to a t. But being honest I go for the drizzle and pinch method of measurements for this kind of recipe.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
Once cut, the aubergine flesh does start to discolour so I am not a huge fan of preparing early and then cooking later. Seasoning only really taked a minute but if you do need to get ahead of time, I would recommend cooking until three quarters of the way done and the completing the cooking just before serving.
It is possible to fully cook and then reheat or freeze, thaw and reheat but it does lose a little something in the process.
Leftovers can be cut up and thrown in salads, mixed into left over couscous or rice. It is fine cold but if you want it warm you can either microwave or heat in the oven for a crispier affair. Throwing them into an air fryer would be a great option but keep an eye on them.
If I am cutting them up to mix into something, I do always remove the skin first.
Roasted Aubergine Tips
Do be careful when scoring the flesh that you don’t go through the skin. Saying this, if you do cut through the skin it isn’t the end of the world.
What is important is that when you do the scoring, that you do it on a board. It is very very tempting to pick the aubergine up and cut it whilst in the palm of your hand. This is a recipe for disaster – don’t do it!
If you feel that the tops of the aubergine are becoming to dark or overcooking, turn the oven down earlier in the cooking process. If you are really concerned you can cover them with foil after they’re browned.
If you feel like the aubergine flesh is looking or feeling a little dry during the cooking process, you can add a little more oil to the surface, or even a little water if you prefer.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
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Roasted Aubergine with Pomegranate Molasses
- 1 Aubergine (Eggplant) – roughly 350g each
- Spray Oil
- 1 tsp Garlic Salt
- 1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- ½ tsp Aleppo Pepper (Pul Biber)
- Preheat the oven to 200c or equivalent.
- Slice 1 Aubergine length ways.
- Use the tip of a knife to score a diagonal pattern in the flesh of each aubergine half. Try not to cut all the way through the skin.
- Use Spray Oil to grease a small baking tray and lay the aubergine on, flesh side up.
- Sprinkle 1sp Garlic Salt and 1 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses over the flesh. Spread the molasses about a bit until it is a vaguely even layer.
- Drizzle 1 tbsp Olive Oil and then sprinkle ½ tsp Aleppo Pepper over the aubergine.
- Pop in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Reduce the oven heat to 150c or equivalent and continue roasting for a further 15 minutes.
- Serve hot.
This post was shared with the #CookBlogShare group which is hosted by Recipes Made Easy, Lost in Food and a selection of guest hosts.
You can learn more in my guest host post and see the recipes that I chose to create an Easy Everyday Feast!