Smoky Aubergine and Tahini Bruschetta

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Smoky aubergine mixed with tahini, lemon and garlic and drizzled with olive oil is called moutabal batenjan in Arabic. The trick to making the dip is blistering the aubergines, as it is essential to blacken the skin in order to create the proper flavor – a smoky quality that brings a distinctive note to the dish. I prefer to chargrill the aubergine over an open flame, but it can also be baked in the oven at 200°C on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Either way, cook it until the skin has turned black.

For the smoky aubergine

1 aubergine (600 to 800g)
2 tbsp tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the bruschetta
6 slices (1 to 11⁄2cm thick) wholewheat country bread
2 garlic cloves, whole 30ml olive oil

To serve

1 tsp nigella seeds
Seeds of 1⁄2 pomegranate Olive oil, to taste

Chargrill the aubergine over a medium flame, turning from time to time to ensure all sides are blackened and the flesh is softened through, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, until cool enough to handle.

Skin the aubergine by hand and place it in a colander over a bowl for about 10 to 15 minutes to allow any excess water to drain.

Place the aubergine, tahini, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place the sliced bread on the tray, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes each side, or until toasted. Remove from the oven and rub garlic on one side of each slice, then brush the same side with olive oil using a pastry brush.

Top each piece of toast with 1 to 2 tbsp of the smoky aubergine. Sprinkle with the nigella and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.