Crispy Yoghurt Aubergines
This crisp yoghurt coated and fried aubergine recipe is by far my favourite way to eat my favourite vegetable. I admit, it is slightly unusual – the recipe is based on a childhood favourite of mine. First coated in yoghurt, then in flour and fried in olive oil it turns the usually mushy aubergine into a light and crisp affair. Every now and then my dad would cook up a batch of this as an afternoon snack and it would be gobbled up by everyone before he could even blink. My dad was never one to cook many vegetables, claiming it was due to the fact that none of the vegetables he liked were available in Germany (or at least didn’t taste good). That is true – once you’ve eaten a sweet and juicy mediterranean tomato, the dutch hothouse variety just tastes like a cucumber. And once you’ve eaten a Lebanese cucumber, finger sized, crisp, slightly sweet and actually tasting of something, the hothouse cucumber tastes like a waste of space. Yet aubergines in northern Europe are actually vaguely edible, even in autumn. Admittedly, not nearly as good as what grows in my grandmother’s garden in Lebanon but pretty close.
My Lebanese grandmother actually refers to aubergines as eggplants, as do most people in North America. Which always struck me as a very strange name given that they were completely the wrong colour, wrong shape and more related in size to an ostrich egg. Yet that name originates form northern Europe from the time before greenhouses. Never growing to full size or ripening, Aubergines stayed small and often white or yellow, thus resembling a chicken egg. They are in fact a berry and vaguely related to tobacco; which you can tell from some varieties where the seeds can taste quite bitter.
Aubergines have a myriad of different names such as guinea squash in South America, Baigan in part of the Caribbean and once upon a time mad-apple (what a great name though possibly a slightly difficult sale to the customer). They can also come in various colours including white, shades of purple and striped and grow to various sizes and forms; long and thin or round like a small volleyball. In India they can grown up to a weight of 1 kilo and the plant of one semi-wild variation can grow to over 2 metres tall.
Having now imparted lots of vital aubergine facts to you, I can begin to tell you more about this recipe. Coated in a layer of yoghurt and then dusted in flour, aubergine slices are fried in copious amount of olive oil so they emit an extremely satisfying crunch when you bite into them. The sour yoghurt complements the sweet creaminess of the aubergine the way I’d like to be complimented every waking minute of every day. It even works when its gone cold and sandwiched between two slices of bread with some fresh tomato and a bit of basil or coriander. I would eat these simply with a bit of pita bread or a salad on the side. They also make a delicious vegetarian burger or wrap. Or perhaps just straight out of the pan into the mouth…
Secrets to Success
- Don’t handle the aubergines to much when coating in yoghurt and flour, otherwise it becomes a bit messy
- Make sure you have enough oil in the pan so they can become crisp
- Always coat a few at a time and then fry straight away. If you try and coat them all at once the flour just gets soggy from the yoghurt and they won’t be as nice and crisp