16 baby aubergines
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2 red peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped
Half a teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper
Half a bunch fresh parsley, chopped
200ml strained yogurt, to serve
This is my father's favourite dish and, after years of practice, he has got it down to a work of art. He still prepares it for the most special of occasions. Bulgarian aubergines have a very light, soft flesh, without any bitterness. I find that if I use young, milky, tender aubergines, I get a really good result.
Cooking an aubergine can be very tricky, but get it right and it is delectable. You will notice the slight Turkish overtones in this recipe, which is not unusual for Bulgaria: the Turks dominated the region for more than 500 years.
Halve the baby aubergines lengthwise along the centre, through the stalks. Scoop out the flesh of each half, leaving a casing of about 2cm of flesh.
Place a large non-stick pan on a medium heat and heat four tablespoons of the oil until hot and smoking. Sauté a few aubergine halves at a time for about three or four minutes on each side, until golden brown, and remove to a baking tray, flesh-side up. Repeat with all the aubergine halves. Meanwhile, finely chop the flesh scooped from the aubergines and keep to one side.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. In another medium non-stick pan, heat the remaining oil and gently sauté the onion and garlic over a very low heat until just softened and golden brown, for about three to four minutes. Add the chopped aubergine flesh, the tomato, peppers and cumin, and season to taste. Continue to cook on the low heat for a further 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the parsley.
Fill the aubergine halves with the filling, piling it high. Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve hot with a dollop of yoghurt.
From 'Feasts' by Silvena Rowe (Mitchell Beazley, £14.99)
Syrah des Garrigues 2005, France
An intense flavour of blackcurrant and raspberry perfectly sets off this vegetable dish.
Marks & Spencer, £14.99, www.marksandspencer.com