Sweet and Sour Baked White Aubergines

This is a find example of an ingredient led recipe. Sometimes they are the most fun. You know how it goes: you buy something on a whim, and then worry about what to do with it later. Well, Peckham is full of little white aubergines. Great piles of them. We hadn’t cooked them before, but a quick chat with our friendly greengrocer gave us a few pointers.

Apparently they are eaten raw in salads in a lot of African countries, and are used extensively in Thai cuisine. We tried a little raw – and yes, they are actually rather nice. Sweetish, and crunchy. But we’ll play with them in a salad another day. On this occasion we decided to bake them.

You can of course make this recipe with regular baby aubergines, or even courgettes.

Ingredients (to make enough for 4 as a starter):

  • 8 baby white aubergines
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled + very finely sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled + very finely sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

For the sauce:

  • oil for frying
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green chillies, chopped (optional)
  • 1cm knob ginger, peeled + chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, halved (chance to use up those soft-not-very pretty ones)
  • 2 small overripe mangoes, peeled and mashed, or one small tin mango puree
  • 75ml balsamic vinegar

So all you do is… Rinse the aubergines, and then make four lengthways incisions (about 3/4 cm deep) in each one, from the calyx towards the base, taking care not to split them.
Put the garlic and onion in a small bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add enough olive oil just to coat them. Sloosh them around a bit, and then insert a little bit of garlic into two of the cavities in each of the aubergines, and a sliver of onion into the other two slits. Arrange the aubergines in an oven dish and put to one side.
To make the sauce heat a little oil in a pan and fry off the onion, chillies and ginger. Once the onion has softened, add the tomatoes, the mango puree and the vinegar plus around 100ml of water. Allow to bubble in the pan for around five minutes, stirring regularly, before pouring the sauce over the aubergines.
Cover the baking tray with foil, and bake at gas mark 4 (180? C) for around 45 minutes or until the aubergines are tender when prodded with a fork.
Serve with moppy-uppy bread.

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