Zaalouk is a Moroccan dish that can be easiest described as a spicy aubergine/Baba ghanouj dish with attitude. In consistency it lies somewhere between a salad and a dip. Prep time is minimal; the longest part of the process is grilling the sliced aubergine for half an hour, which begins the process.
This makes the flesh easy to scoop out, mash to get a silky consistency and set aside. Next, we chop cherry tomatoes and some onion, finely and add to the aubergine base.
Add garlic paste or very finely diced garlic, though it mixes best as a paste.
Add the juice of a lemon and to work the mixture through, extra virgin olive oil. I will stress that the best quality olive oil should be employed as the olive is a dressing, rather than a cooking medium.
The final step is adding Harissa, the popular North African chilli paste to give the salad/dip a lift. Bart Spices do a powder version that is made up of powdered salt, cumin, coriander, garlic, mint, caraway seed and cayenne pepper.
The harissa adds depth to the dish, which could be fairly bland, but best added bit by bit to reach a comfortable level of heat. Chilli is easy to add, but impossible to take out, so adding, mixing and tasting is best done gradually.
Although it can be eaten as a dip with flatbreads as a mezzeor part of an hors d’oeuvre, frying slices of halloumi cheese make it work as a main dish, the salty cheese, acting as a foil with the fresh tastes of the vegetables.
Garnish and enjoy!
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