Whilst some of the flavours in this dish are familiar, it definitely deserves recognition in its own right. The recipe is adapted from one in the Leon cookbook, which is published by the creators of the popular UK Leon restaurants. Leon is all about real, healthy, fast food and many of the dishes draw on Mediterranean and African ingredients. This recipe epitomizes the Leon style.
The original recipe actually featured tamarind, but I used dates for sweetness instead. Whichever ingredient you opt for, the result is a vegetable-packed dish studded with bursts of sweet flavour that perfectly offset the spices, tomato and mint.
I chose to roast some of my vegetables ahead of time, which obviously increased the cooking time. I liked the result and on the day in question the timing worked for me, but you could skip that step if need be.
Leon-inspired chickpea aubergine and mint stew
A delicious meal adapted from the Egyptian aubergine and tamarind stew in the Leon cookbook
2 large aubergine, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Drizzle olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 red pepper, chopped
1-1/2 cups (or 1 tin) cooked chickpeas
6 large dates, chopped
Small bunch mint leaves, roughly torn
Water, if needed, for cooking
Rice, to serve
Preheat your oven to 180'C and place the chopped aubergines and carrots in an oven-proof dish, along with the red wine vinegar. Roast for 30 - 45 minutes. (You can skip this step and cook everything on the stove top if you prefer.)
When the aubergine and carrots are ready, set them aside (with any remaining vinegar) and heat a drizzle of oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and garlic until golden and fragrant, around 5 minutes.
Add the spices and tomato paste and reduce heat to low. Add the cooked aubergine and carrot (with any remaining vinegar), pepper, chickpeas and dates. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 15 minutes. Add water to the pan to keep a smooth stew-like consistency if needed.
Add mint leaves just before serving and serve with rice.
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