Middle East meets west: Sabrina Ghayour’s food without borders

Pomegranates, pistachios and aubergine lead the way in a selection of sweet and savoury dishes from the bestselling author's cookbook, ‘Feasts’

Sabrina's peach polenta cake recipe from her 'Feasts' cookbook in 2017
Sabrina's peach polenta cake recipe from her 'Feasts' cookbook in 2017

Peach, lime and pistachio cake

Serves 8-10

3 peaches
3 large eggs
200g caster sugar
3 unwaxed limes
150g fine polenta
175g pistachio nuts, finely blitzed in a food processor or mini chopper
150g salted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing

For the topping

1 peach
150ml Greek yogurt
25g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp clear honey

Put the 3 peaches into a small saucepan, cover with boiling water and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until soft. Drain, then immediately plunge the peaches into cold water to cool them. Remove the stones, drain any excess water, then blitz the flesh in a blender until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 23cm springform cake tin and line it with baking paper. Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl. Finely grate the zest of 2½ of the limes directly into the bowl. Add the polenta and blitzed pistachios, then mix well. Stir in the cooled melted butter and, lastly, the peach purée. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin or overnight. Remove the cake from the tin and place it on a serving plate. Prepare the topping just before you are ready to serve. Spread the Greek yogurt straight from the refrigerator over the surface of the cake. Alternatively if you’re not going to eat the whole cake in one sitting you can slice the cake into portions and top each slice individually. Slice the peach and arrange on top of the yogurt. Scatter over the pistachios and finely grate the zest of the remaining lime half over the top. Drizzle over the honey and serve immediately.

Tip: Leftover cake refrigerates incredibly well covered in clingfilm, but bring it to room temperature to serve. You can always add the yogurt and topping to individual slices just before serving.

Sticky, spicy aubergines with toasted sesame seeds and spring onions

Serves 4-6 as a side

vegetable oil
3 large or 4 medium aubergines, halved lengthways and cut into 2.5cm-thick half-moons
About 2 heaped tbsp rose harissa, plus extra as desired
4 tbsp clear honey, plus extra as desired
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

To garnish

2 tsp sesame seeds, lightly dry-toasted
1 tsp nigella seeds
½ small bunch (about 15g) of fresh coriander, leaves roughly chopped
4 spring onions, thinly sliced from root to tip

Heat a large saucepan over a high heat and add enough oil to fill 1cm up the side. Line a plate with a double layer of kitchen paper. Add the aubergines to the pan and coat them in the hot oil.

The aubergines are like sponges and will immediately absorb the oil but, once cooked through, they will release some oil again. Fry the aubergines for 10-12 mins, adding more oil as necessary to help them cook and tossing them every few minutes, or until they begin to shrink, soften and take on an even golden brown colour on all sides.

Using a metal slotted spoon, transfer to the paper-lined plate. Lay a further 2 sheets of kitchen paper over the aubergine pieces to absorb excess oil.

Use kitchen paper to wipe any remaining oil from the frying pan. Transfer the aubergines back into the pan and add the harissa, honey and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Stir well until the aubergine pieces are evenly coated in the mixture.

Adjust the levels of honey, harissa and seasoning as desired. Serve with the sesame seeds, nigella seeds, coriander and spring onions scattered over.

Pomegrante bulgur wheat salad with sour cherries, almonds and feta

Serves 6-8

800ml pomegranate juice (100 per cent pomegranate – I use Pom)
200g bulgur wheat
1 tbsp honey (optional)
Olive oil
1 small bunch (about 30g ) of dill, finely chopped
1 small bunch (about 30g) of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 long red chillies, deseeded and very finely chopped
100g flaked almonds
200g dried sour cherries (sweetened)
200g feta cheese, finely crumbled
Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Put the pomegranate juice into a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Add the bulgur wheat and simmer for 20–25 minutes, or until the juice is mostly absorbed by the grains. If you wish to offset the sharp flavour, add the honey while the bulgur wheat is cooking. Leave to cool.

Fluff the cooled bulgur grains with a fork. Drizzle over a little olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Stir well, then add the chopped dill and parsley, chillies, flaked almonds and sour cherries, mixing them in with a fork to prevent them from sticking together. Lastly, add the feta and fork it through, then serve.

Tip: Don’t be put off by the colour of the bulgur wheat – different brands of pomegranate juice will be different strengths of colour. Go by the flavour of the overall dish.

Recipes from Sabrina Ghayour's Feasts. Published by Mitchell Beazley, £20

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