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Twice-baked Aubergine with Pilaf

Based on the Turkish imam bayildi, this dish is a hearty vegan staple.

Serves 4 Total Time 60 mins


Get the ingredients here.

  •  4 small aubergines 
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling 
  • 1 large onion, diced 
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1 stick of cinnamon 
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar 
  • 1 x 400g tin pinto beans

For the rice

  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 240g basmati rice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cardamom pods 
  • 500ml vegetable stock

To serve

  • Nutritional yeast 
  • Pomegranate seeds 
  • Mint and coriander 
  • Vegan feta


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Cut the aubergines in half through the stalk, and score the flesh. Place all the halves into a roasting dish snugly. Drizzle over 3 tbsp of olive oil, place in the oven and roast for 30 mins.

2. While the aubergine is cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and sweat the onion and garlic with the bay leaves and cinnamon for 5 mins. Add the tomatoes, oregano, pomegranate molasses and sugar. Simmer, stirring frequently, for 15 mins, or until the aubergine is done.

3. Once soft, remove the aubergine from the oven and scoop the flesh from the skins, keeping the skins intact. Add the flesh to the tomato sauce with the pinto beans, season and simmer for another 10 mins until it has thickened.

4. Return the mix to the aubergine skins and pop back into the oven for 20 mins.

5. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan and add the basmati rice, extra bay leaves and cardamom. Stir to coat everything well in the oil and let the rice get hot. Add the veg stock, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 12 mins. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on until you serve.

6. Remove the aubergine and sprinkle some nutritional yeast, pomegranate seeds, fresh herbs and vegan feta before serving alongside the rice.

Chef’s Tip

Make it veggie

Top with regular feta and cook the pilaf in 30g butter.

Make it meaty

Serve alongside griddled lamb chops.

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