Whilst dining at the table of Sultan Mehmet II...

Monday 29/11/2004

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Diary and Notes

Just because it's vegetarian week it doesn't mean I can't eat well. I intend to impress you all with a variety of tastes and flavours from around the world. "Yippee!" You all say in unison, we thought it was going to be all spinach, eggs and cheese (yummy - eggs florentine - delicious). It should be pointed out that I'm not new to this pinko-commie-jumper-wearing-bicycling-lets-all-hug-the-world-and-save-the-lentil-nonsense and was a vegetarian myself for two years (back in my more stupid days), so I have a bit of experience of eeking out flavour from those odd coloured thingemibobs, what do you call them, uh, ahh vegetables, that's the kiddies.

So it's not all brown rice and sprouts for me, no sir. I intend to have something good every day in the hopes that some lonesome hippy chick might have a go at cooking it, fall in love with my cooking (and me of course) and meet me at the airport when I get home with a twinkle in her eye and a lentil curry cooking on the stove.

So what delights did we have this evening?

This particular dish is something I haven't cooked since I was about 18. I can remember seeing a history program about the Ottoman Empire and in particular about a palace that had over one hundred cooks working on a regular basis. It wasn't a cookery program as such, but did mention a favourite dish of the Sultan made from Aubergines and gave enough of an idea as to how it was done for me to have a go all those years ago. I have never cooked it since, not even during my years as a veggy. So for me today is a blast from the past. I think the first time (and only time) I made it, I had it as a starter, but today it was my main course, with a spicy tomato sauce, feta cheese, some rice and bread. It was as good as I remember and I can't for the life of me think why I have not cooked it more often. What is really pleasant is the way the aubergine soaks up the garlic flavour. It went particularly well with the sauce and the cheese. Perhaps a few falafel would have been good too. I had some mint yoghurt in the fridge which I was planning to serve as well, but I completely forgot. Also, I don't think the original fifteenth century version would have had tomatoes, but who cares, we want taste, not authenticity.

I made extra tomato sauce and put it in a jar in the fridge, it will come in handy later in the week no doubt.

Cake Blog

Plum streuselkuchen: Not to be confused with the streuselkuchen from Saturday. This was a light sponge, covered in plums. I think the streusel bit refers to the top of the cake, which is always knobbly.


  • Ottoman Style Baked Aubergine,
  • Spicy Tomato Sauce,
  • Feta Cheese,
  • Rice,
  • Bread.


  • Aubergine: Aubergine, tomato, garlic, bay leaves, spiced olive oil.
  • Sauce: Onions, olive oil, chillis, tomatoes, tomato ketchup, tomato puree, black pepper.


  • Aubergine: Slice the garlic very thinly. Slice the tomato. Make about six slits to a depth of about 2 cm, the length of the aubergine and place onto some kitchen foil. Press the slivers of garlic, tomato and some bay leaf into each slit. Drizzle liberally with the spiced olive oil. Wrap tightly in foil and bake for about 1 1/2 hours. When cooked, unwrap, remove the bay leaves, any obvious bits of garlic and serve cut in half and drizzled with sauce.
  • Sauce: Fry some finely chopped onion and chilli in a little olive oil until soft. Dice some tomatoes and add to the pan. Cook until the tomatoes are soft. Stir in a blob of tomato sauce, some tomato puree and a good grind of black pepper. Add water until it is just a little runnier than you require and then cook slowly, with the lid on, for about an hour.