Posts Tagged With: aubergine

Morcilla De Verano – Spanish-Style Aubergines

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Morcilla De Verano

A traditional vegan classic from the south of Spain, originally cooked to replicate Morcilla (black pudding basically).  You regularly see it served around Murcia, especially on tapas bar counters.  Its a great option for me in the land of jamon.  All Murcians know the dish and are rightly proud of it.  We’ve added some tempeh to the traditional recipe making it more of main event.  I love cooking aubergines right down with sweet onions and the addition of proper Spanish herbs and spices really pack a punch flavour wise.

Even though its called a ‘summer’ dish, we think this is great all year around.  Due to its slightly meat like texture, this is a dish to sate all.  We’re always trying to find dishes that will appeal to meat eaters aka most of our family and friends.  This is exactly what this dish was created for, people couldn’t afford meat and were looking for a delicious substitute.

You know, I love Spanish food and this dish really taps into the rustic heart of their magical range of cuisine.  Spanish food speaks of the land and culture.  It is the perfect expression of such a diverse land and for me, the cuisine of the South perfectly matches the arid plains and craggy red mountains.  Its rugged, its got bags of soul and it can take your breath away.

As some of you will know, my parents have a little place over in Murcia, Jane and I are regular visitors chasing the sun and the peaceful Med life.  This dish is based on a recipe passed to us from wonderful friends over that way, Fey and Jose.  It is actually Jose’s brother Andres recipe and he created it in an attempt to eat less meat (he’s a real maverick in the area, only 0.3% of Spain’s population are veggies after all).  I still have the little scrap of paper that he wrote it down on one night, for me that is real soul cooking.  This recipe is connected with so many memories of wonderful people and places, we can’t help but love it.  We have of course made our usual Beach House alterations, but this does not stray too far from Andres Murcian delight.  Gracias HombresX

Recipe Notes

Don’t be shy with the oil here, remember it is Spanish after all!  The dish should be slightly on the oily side which of course makes it very rich and satisfying.  After eating this for dinner Jane exclaimed “I feel like I’ve just eaten meat and two veg” rubbing her belly.  Always a good sign.

We decided that this is a star dish and very versatile.  It could be used to stuff a vegetable, a courgette or potato sounds perfect.  Of course, its great for tapas and picnics and is lovely even when served cold.

Buen Provecho!

The Bits

2 small aubergines

1 courgette

1 small onion (all three finely diced and kept seperate)

2 garlic cloves (crushed)

2 teas fresh rosemary (finely chopped)

2 teas sherry vinegar

2 teas sweet paprika

1/2 teas cinnamon

1/2 teas all spice

2 teas fresh oregano (finely chopped) or 1 teas dried

200g tempeh (or tofu)

1-2 teas sea salt

1 1/2 teas cracked black pepper

Olive oil (for frying)

 

Topping

2 tbs toasted pine nuts or almonds

 

Do It

This is a three part saute/ pan frying routine, meaning a number of stages until your meaty morcilla is just right.  The trick is to get everything nicely caramelised, bringing out maximum flavours.

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First saute, courgettes and aubergine

Start with your aubergine and courgette.  Add 2 tbs of the oil and warm on a medium heat in a heavy based frying pan.  Add the aubergine and saute for 8-10 minutes, until nice and golden and releasing some of their liquid, then add the courgettes and continue to saute for another 5 minutes.  This is the real flavourful aspect of the dish, the aubergines should be nicely browned and gorgeously sweet by this stage.  Set aside.

Next, your tempeh needs sorting.  Chop it up finely, it will resemble dried scramble egg.  Add 1/2 tbs of oil and saute for 5-7 minutes, until it is beginning to get brown around the edges.  Set aside with the aubergine mix.

Now, add 1 tbs oil, fry the onions in the same pan (wipe out if necessary).  Lower the heat if things are getting a little hot.  Stir, the onions should take 6-8 minutes to become golden, we don’t want to rush them and risk burning them.  Once they are golden, add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, pop your vinegar in to a big hiss.  Now it’s time to spice things up.

Add your paprika, all spice and cinnamon, saute for a minute, stirring all the time and not allowing the mix to stick.  Then add your herbs and the aubergine/tempeh mix to the pan.  Stir well and warm through for a couple of minutes.  Your ready for the plate.

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Warm through and enjoy the awesome aromas

Serve

In a warm serving dish, topped with some pine nuts and a sprinkling of paprika.

We served our morcilla with some steamed green vegetables (broad beans, runner beans and broccoli) with some pan fried lemon cabbage.

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Morcilla de Verano – looking good!

We Love It!

Really satisfying rustic style Spanish fare.  I imagine this is pretty close to Morcilla itself and cannot wait to try it out on some meat eaters.  Dads coming soon, one of our favourite guinea pigs.

Foodie Fact

Pine nuts are just incredible little things.  Now so expensive, but worth every penny as a treat item.  They can make a real difference to a dish, especially when roasted a little to bring out the flavour.

Pine nuts are full of vitamin A, so you’ll be able to see in the dark.  They have good levels of vitamin D, for the bones and are also rich in vitamin C and iron.  They are quite fatty, which is obvious when you enjoy them, but its mono-unsaturated fats.  Pine nuts are also packed full of energy, great on cereal for a morning buzz and fizz.

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Served with some blanched summer greens – Not bad for Thursday!

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Maqluba with Roast Pepper, Aubergine and Almond

Maqluba - Red Pepper and Aubergine Savoury Cake

Maqluba – Red Pepper and Aubergine Savoury Cake

An easier, vegan method of making a Maqluba (an ‘upside down’ one pot savoury cake if you like) which if made properly takes around a fortnight to prepare.  I, like many of you, have not got a lot of time in the kitchen.  I work in a kitchen so days off are spent trying to stop myself thinking about food, new recipes etc.  This is a difficult task and if Im in the house, the kitchen calls!  This also leads to me eating far too much.  It’s complicated!!!

This savoury cake is real festival food, real party time on a plate.  The flavours are an awesome mix and as a centre piece on a table would grace any banquet; vegan, vegetarian or other.  It just looks so very cool, all those layers and roasted sweet veggies.

I like to streamline things, I love the idea of food heritage and recipes being handed down through generations.  The providence of dishes are essential to maintain their relevance to a culture, food expresses who and where we are in the world.  We are proud of it and rightly so, all cultures have explored their local produce and experimented to the point of culinary excellence and deliciousness.  Even in Britain, we are pretty handy with potatoes and leeks.

YOTAM (Again)

I have to say that one person who most excites me in the modern food game is Mr Yotam Ottenleghi.  He is responsible for a wave of beautiful books/dishes and is changing our perceptions towards the foods of the Southern Med/ Middle East.  I have always loved food from this area and surround but Yotam has taken my understanding of it to another level.

It’s fruity and spicy, nutty and floral, very sweet and very sour, all avenues of flavour are explored and utilised in the cuisine, its also screams out with gorgeous colour.  It’s such a fertile area, great produce abounds at the markets.  Historically, the cultures are old, real old.  You feel that in the food tradition, where feasts are prepared and savoured.  The romance of food is alive in the rituals of preparation and the coming together of family and friends in the kitchen and around the dining table.

This take on Maqluba is one such dish.  Having said that, it is historically a dish that is quick and easy for mothers to get together, we certainly have less time on our hands in Westernised countries than others. What a shame!  I can think of nothing more rewarding than preparing a dish with love and attention throughout the day for my loved ones.

 

Sometimes I wish we could cut the internet to the Beach House.  This would certainly free up some time, but then the Beach House Kitchen would disappear and I enjoy this blogging game far too much for that, meeting all of you wonderful folk from around the world is a real pleasure.  You inspire me!  It’s a modern conundrum indeed!

So I’ve taken the best bits about this traditional dish and had a play with them, it still makes something quite spectacular and I don’t think you lose much flavour by cooking the rice seperately.  I have incorporated all the ingredients at the end and given them a quick steam with rose water which brings things together nicely in a floral fashion.

Depending on your taste and dietary persuasion, you may like to substitute the brown rice for good basmati rice.  This does absorb greater flavour and is a little more tender.

The frying pan you use should not be too deep, the more shallow the pan, the easier it will be to turn out the final cake.  It looks a million dollars this dish when you get it right.

The Bits – For 4

2 large tomatoes (1cm slices)

1 large aubergine (width ways – 1cm slices)

1 red pepper (cut into thin slices)

1/2 small cauliflower (cut into small florets)

1 large leek (finely sliced)

1/2 teas cinnamon

1/3 teas ground cardamom

1 teas turmeric

1/4 teas all spice

1 1/2 teas baharat (spice mix or just up the other spices)

1/4 teas black pepper

2 teas lemon zest

250ml creamy soya yoghurt (unsweetened)

1-2 teas rose water

1 big handful crushed toasted almonds/ almond flakes

Olive oil

 

Rice

1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice (or other long grain)

2 3/4 cups good veg stock

5 peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 handful dried cherries (or sultanas/ dried apricot)

1/2 teas turmeric

1 red onion (finely sliced)

3 cloves garlic (crushed)

2 tbs olive oil (for frying)

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

 

Topping

Crushed toasted almonds/ flaked almonds

Soya yoghurt and cucumber (mix together with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper)

Sour cherries (or sulatanas/ dried apricot)

 

Do It

Soak rice in salted water for 30 mins to 1 hour before cooking,

In a saucepan, begin by frying off onions gently until golden in 2 tbs oil for 1o-15 minutes.  Add your garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and turmeric, stir through and heat for a minute, then add your rice and coat well, leave to warm through for 1 minute and then add 2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock (save a little).  Bring to a boil and cover tightly, lower heat to minimum and cook for 35-40 minutes.

In a large frying pan, saute your vegetables in batches using as much oil as you like.  Cook them until soft and slightly caramelised.  Have a warm plate with cover ready.  Start with peppers, aubergine and then tomato.  They will all take differing times, tomatoes only take a minute each side.  You’re looking for some charred edges, but not completely cooked, a higher heat will achieve this.  So its burnt, but not that burnt, what a great rule!

Pour boiling water (from the kettle) over the cauliflower florets and leave for 10 minutes.

Lastly fry the leeks until soft and golden, then add cauliflower and all spices and heat for a minute, then take off the heat and stir in the soya yoghurt and lemon zest.  Cover and set aside (you’ll need another warm plate here).

Now we’re ready to layer.  Clean and wipe out your frying pan, begin by scattering in a generous amount of almonds, then place the tomatoes over the base.  Leave spaces between them, this is going to be the top of the cake, so make it nice!  Then add your aubergine and then pepper, then spoon on your leek mix on top of that, spread evenly.  Now fluff your rice and spread evenly over the top, press down gently to get it all nicely packed in.  Now get the pan warm again, and pour over 1/4 cup of stock and the rose water, cover with a suitably sized lid or plate and warm gently on the hob for 10 minutes to get all the flavours mingling.

Leave to rest for 5 minutes and then place your hand on the plate and invert the pan in one smooth motion (easier said than done).  A swift action is needed here so think it through!  Place down on a work surface and tap the bottom of the pan with the base of a wooden spoon, rolling pin…….something hefty.  I leave it for a few minutes to sort itself out and settle.

When ready to serve, take off pan and you will have a lovely looking layer rice cake awaiting.  Maqluba!

Maqluba -Lovely layers of goodness

Maqluba -with dried cherries and almonds

Serve

Warm with scattered dried sour cherries and more almonds   Extra yoghurt, salads, pickles…….YUM!

We Love It!

We sure do!  This is a feast, a one pot wonder, sure beats a hot pot!  The flavours here are quite incredible and this is something very special.  A special occasion treat and the rose water adds a unique flavour to the Maqluba.

Foodie Fact

Rose water is used widely the cuisine of the southern Mediterranean and Iran and all the way to India, it is a magical ingredient and must be used sparingly, especially in a savoury dish.  A  little goes a long way.

Rose water is very simple to make, distill rose petal and there you have it!  It is used in cosmetics also, but I prefer putting it in desserts!  What a waste of good rose water!

In India they use rose water to clear irritations of the eye, so its versatile too!

 

Categories: Dinner, gluten-free, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Imam Bayildi – Turkish Stuffed Aubergines (Vegan)

Imam Bayeldi (Turkish Stuffed Subergines)

Imam Bayeldi (Turkish Stuffed Subergines)

Turkish food has always tantalised me, Ive had a few dishes that promised so much, but finding good Turkish restaurants is difficult in the UK and I have resorted to educating and cooking them myself at home.  Isn’t that always the best way anyway!  I much prefer a home cooked meal, prepared with love than something bought.  I am not a good diner out-er, I rarely have a good time and seem perpetually let down by the food.  This maybe due to the fact that I live in the sticks in Wales and in Spain, in the big cities, where cultures merge and intermingle, things are a very different story.

Thing is, I’ve always been more fond of food from further afield that Europe (is Turkey now a part of the ever expanding ‘Europe’!?), maybe its the exotic element and imagery of new and distant horizons.  Turkish cuisine has such bold flavours and is normally pretty simple to get together, focusing on super fresh produce and a constant flow of awesome yoghurt!

A wonderful dish this ‘Imam Bayeldi’ of Turkish origin, bursting with flavour and delicious texture.  You’ve probably made something like this in the past, but its nice to get a specific origin to things, I love the heritage and tradition attached to dishes, the stories and legends behind them.

Imam Bayeldi translates as ‘the priest fainted’, according to Armenian legend, a housewife was surprised by a visit from a priest and created this dish especially (whipped it up quickly I’m sure!)  At the first mouthful the priest fainted with delight!

I have been buying a few cheap as chips cook books on-line, I’m shifting slightly away from constant experimentation in the kitchen and looking at what other people are up to.  The books I am buying are mainly retreat style cooking, Ayurveda and Macro-biotic influenced; I have some very cool Zen Buddhist cook books but this recipe (well most of it) came from the awesome ‘Shoshoni Cookbook’, which is a Yoga retreat up in the hills of Colorado.  The food is simple, vibrant and superbly nutritious.  The philosophy of cooking at Shoshoni, be ever present and immersed in your activity, constantly channeling love and good intention into your food and its preparation are essential for me in the whole wonderful food game, enjoyment!  This is food charged with positive energy, cooked from a special place.

I know there are many different ways of preparing this dish, but this is my favourite.  The aubergines are very tender after boiling and the light spices and herbs work very well together.

Aubergines can be grown in Britain, but only in greenhouses.  We are struggling getting good local produce at the moment, so our seasonal fare is sparse.  Fingers crossed this cold weather won’t hold, it’s been gloriously sunny in the days and freezing in the morning and nights.  Not good for our poor plants, but makes for beautiful days walking.

You my live in a lovely part of the world where your veggies are just plain amazing and sweet.  I would omit the honey and even the tomato puree in this case, with great produce, well, it speaks for itself and needs no assistance.

Yemek Keyfini!  Enjoy!

Serves two quite nicely.

The Bits

2 aubergine (whole), 1 onion (diced small), 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 4 tomatoes (diced small), 1 red pepper (diced small), 1/2 teas ground coriander, 1 teas cumin seeds, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 teas honey, 3 tbs pine nuts, 1 cup coriander (leaves and stems), 3 tbs olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper (to taste), parsley and mint (chopped for topping)

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Aubergines/eggplants ready for the pan

Do It

Place aubergines in a pot of boiling water, press down into the water with a lid and boil for 15 to 20 minutes until tender.  Do not overcook, they have a lovely smooth texture, but the skin is fragile and breaks easily (as I learnt the hard way!)  When cooked, run under cold water to chill quickly.

Split the aubergines down the centre lengthwise and gently score out the pulp and remove without piercing shells.  Good luck here! Keep the skins warm somewhere of your choosing, a warm covered plate works well.

Saute your cumin seeds for two minutes, they will pop a bit, then add onion and cook until translucent, add aubergine and cook for 10 minutes or until tender, add ground coriander, tom puree, pepper, garlic, honey (if needed) and tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Add some of your herbs (coriander, parsley or mint or a mix) and pine nuts, season well to taste.

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Serve

Fill the warm shells with vegetables and sprinkled with some more herbs and a good drizzle of amazing olive oil.  Traditionally served with Mudjedera (recipe to come soon) or cous cous.

We Love It!

A simple, tasty dish that didn’t make us faint this time, but we’ll work on it!

Foodie Fact 

Aubergines have very few calories but plenty of fibre, it contains loads of the vitamin B’s and some vitamin C.  It also has good levels of manganese which acts as an anti-oxidant around the body and plenty of potassium which is good for many of your parts! (nerves and heart especially).

Categories: Dinner, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Khoresh Bademjan – Persian Aubergine Stew

The Dhaba – Spice Tray

Persian (or Iranian) food is a favourite of mine, but something I haven’t cooked for a long time.  It is similar to Indian food and the food of other areas in the Middle East; namely Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan.  Some would say that these countries food cultures are similar to Persian food, after all, they were there first!  Ancient Persia, Darius the Great and all, have always sparked my imagination.  I hope one day to visit (soon).

THE BEAUTY OF PERSIAN CUISINE

Persian food is beautifully spiced and rich.  It’s roots are of course ancient and the oldest Iranian cookbook was written in 927  and was called ‘Kār-nāmeh dar bāb-e tabbākhī va sanat-e ān’ or the “Manual on cooking and its craft”.  It offers an exhaustive insight into the complexity and importance of Persian food to the people and the culture.  This amazing food tradition has been passed down through the generations, normally from mother to daughter, meaning that the dishes served in Tehran today will not have varied greatly from the time of the ‘Kar-nameh’.  This all means that Persians take there food very seriously, authenticity is a must.

Persian food is captivating, I love the emphasis on fresh produce, in London I have seen Iranian housewives shopping down at the markets and they only accept the very freshest of ingredients (giving the stall holders plenty of lip if things aren’t up to scratch!)  Persian cuisine uses large amounts of fresh herbs, sometimes it seems they replace the use of vegetables!  Many of the recipes have such a deep rooted tradition, you feel like you are re-creating the dishes of the ancients, in your own kitchen.

A LITTLE HISTORY…….

Persian food has influenced the world of cooking, much more than we know, giving us delights such as ice cream and kebab.  Dare I say it, many of North Indian dishes are heavily derived from Persian cuisine.  In Mughal times especially, Persian cooks were in high demand in the courts of the ruling caste.  These trends filter down into the melting pot of India’s culinary traditions.

The whole vast area of the Middle East has been linked throughout history; cultures mingling and merging throughout the centuries.  Iran is a very fertile land with a wonderful array of produce; pistachios, spices, dried limes, fruits, pomegranate, green herbs, the flavours of rose and saffron, all spring to mind and the colours alone get my imagination flowing.

Persia

TEHRAN VIA LONDON

My first taste of Persia came in a London backstreet, a place where farsi filled the air and a smiling man made fresh flat breads in a stone oven.  The food was so fresh and the flavours striking.  I started to experiment with Iranian cooking and found a whole new range of flavours and ingredients to play with.  Dried limes for example are unique revelation!

Persian food is very traditional and each dish has set rules to follow, not something I am completely comfortable with, but the results are generally outstanding.  My best memories of these Iranian days were the rice (polo) cake that I made.  The sort of dish that is so easy and looks very unique, the rice takes the shape of the the pan and forms a nice golden crust.  You cut into it like a cake!  Served with a delicious Ghormeh Sabzi (Veg and Kidney Bean Stew – Iran’s National Dish) and you have something quite special to enjoy.

Although Persian main dishes revolve around meat and rice, I have found the creative combining of ingredients can easily be related to veggie foods.  There are also many vegan stews, salads etc that are popular in Iran, like this Khoresh Bademjan or Aubergine Stew, which traditionally would have a lump of meat in it.

AUBERGINE – ‘THE POTATO OF IRAN’

Aubergine (Egg plant to some) is a staple in Iran and is even known as the ‘potato of Iran’.  I love making stews, the gentle simmering nature, the way they fill the house with the homely smell of food.  The use of cinnamon here adds such a warming flavour to the dish and the lentils keep nice and firm, giving the stew a very hearty feel.

I know how passionate Iranians are about their food, so I felt it right to seek advice for this recipe and stumbled upon a top Iranian food blogger, Azita at Turmeric and Saffron.  Azita’s recipes are traditional and made with love and care, many handed down from her mother.  This to me is real heart and soul food, cooked with love and care and a cornerstone of family life and culture all over the world.  It is surprising how many of our memories of loved ones revolve around food (or maybe that’s just me!)  I have changed the recipe slightly, but kept the authentic flavours in tact.

Iran is such a vast and fascinating land, the dishes served will vary greatly in different regions, I’ll just have to go for a visit and try them all myself!  Hopefully you’ll see some holiday snaps on the B.H.K soon.  It’s great to be back in the Iranian cooking flow and I hope to be making much more Iranian food.

Salam and Happy CookingX

Yellow split peas

This makes a big pot full, good enough for four hungry mouths.

The Bits

3 large aubergines (peeled, sliced into large chunks and salted with 2 tablespoons of salt)

2 courgettes (chopped into large chunks)

4 medium tomatoes (peeled and chopped)

1 large onion (diced)

4 cloves of garlic (crushed and chopped)

3/4 cup yellow split peas (rinsed)

3 tablespoons sunflower oil for frying onions etc

1/2 cup (60ml) oil for frying aubergines

3 tbs tomato puree

3-4 cups of water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

sea salt and cracked pepper (to taste)

1 lime or to taste (juice) or 2-3 tablespoons sour grapes (ghooreh).

Do It

This is Persian food, meaning  a very particular way of preparing the dish.  Well worth the effort!

Leave your aubergines for 30 minutes with salt rubbed into them.  Then place the salted aubergines in a large container filled with water; put a heavy bowl or a heavy lid on top of the eggplants to hold them down for ten minutes, this will get rid of the bitterness. Remove aubergines from container and pat dry completely before frying.  (You can skip this step if you’re pushed for time).

Frying Aubergine

Fry the aubergines in 1/2 cup (60ml) of hot oil until brown on both sides, remove and then add the courgette and fry until golden. Place all on a plate lined with thick kitchen paper to drain some of the excess oil.

Using a knife, mark each tomato with a shallow X at the top, place them in a pot of boiling water for five minutes before pulling off the skin, then chop or slice them thinly or just chop the tomatoes skins on (for the time deprived).

In a large saucepan, heat the oil, add chopped onions, saute until translucent then add the garlic, stir well. Sprinkle in the turmeric, salt and pepper and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly. Cook until onions begin to caramelise.

Onions and spice – Rather nice!

Add dry split peas, fry for five minutes, this will keep the peas more firm in the khoresh.  Then add chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and three cups of water to cover all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for an 35 mins on medium heat.

Add the fried aubergine and courgette to the mixture, adjust the seasoning and add more water if needed.

Cook for another 15 minutes, until all is nice and tender.  Add the lime juice or two tablespoons of sour grapes (ghooreh).  Let it sit for 10 minutes off the heat, with the lid on.  This allows the stew to cool a little, flavours can be impaired by really hot food.

Persian Aubergine Stew

Serve

With steaming rice, soya yoghurt (or whipped silken tofu) and a fresh salad shirazi.  This dish may also be served with sour grapes (ghooreh), which you can buy in many world food stores.

We Love It!

Jane and I can sit at our table in the Beach House, up in the clouds, and dream of exotic far off lands and ancient cultures…to the blue mosque of Isfahan and back before dessert…..traveling the world one plate at a time.  This stew is that good!

Foodie Fact

The aubergine (or brinjal or eggplant…) is native to India, this fruit comes in all shapes and sizes and is now grown around the world.  It is very low in calories and contains much soluble fibre.  The skin of aubergine is high in anti-oxidants and it is a good food to help high blood cholesterol and aids metabolism.

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