- 2 large (about 500gm each) eggplant
- 300 ml grapeseed oil or other neutral-flavoured oil
- 4 golden shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 50 gm ricotta salata (see note)
- Torn basil (optional), to serve
- 1Prepare a barbecue for grilling. Prick eggplant all over with a toothpick to prevent them bursting, then place directly on coals and turn occasionally until scorched all over and beginning to collapse (20-25 minutes). Place in a heatproof bowl to cool briefly, then peel. Tear eggplant into thumb-sized pieces and season with salt.
- 2Heat oil in a wide, heavy-based saucepan to 150°C. Remove pan from heat, add shallot (be careful, hot oil will spit), then return to high heat and stir continuously with a fork until light golden brown (3-4 minutes). Strain and reserve 2 tbsp oil (remaining oil can be reserved for frying another dish).
- 3Gently warm fenugreek seeds and reserved 2 tbsp oil to 100°C in a small saucepan for 6 minutes. Transfer oil and fenugreek to a mortar and grind with a pestle. Strain through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl and cool, then season with lemon juice and pepper, add eggplant, toss to combine and transfer to a plate. Grate ricotta salata over eggplant with a Microplane, top with basil and fried shallots and serve.
Ricotta salata is available from select delicatessens and cheese shops. Substitute another salted cheese, such as shanklish, or a firm feta.
Drink suggestion: This dish needs the cut and gentle sweetness of a more robust rosé to work as the final condiment. 2017 Six Parallels South Aller Trop Loin Pinot Gris rosé is the ticket.
Drink suggestion by: Mike Bennie