This recipe is basically an excuse to make Adjika, a Georgian hot pepper chutney of sorts, and I want all of you to make it at home. Reason? It’s a red hot chutney that can take your mezze platter to the next level. The Indian palate will love and appreciate it because it’s fiery, spicy, tangy and deeply savoury too. By itself adjika is a concentrate- a paste that is great to use in small quantities spread over toast late at night with some cream cheese, but think of adjika as a lot more- that new hummus stir-in you’ve been looking for, the next special mayo you want to amaze your friends with, or even better- I suggest adding this to a deviled egg puree for the most brilliant filling.
Disclaimer: You’ll need harissa to make this recipe and different brands will make the harissa taste a bit different, but I’ll help you get that right. Shop-bought harissa is fine if you don’t make it at home from scratch like we do. Just remember that Veeba harissa dressing is not harissa and you don’t want to go for that. Al Fez Harissa paste works great, but you’ll have to adjust the acidity. Sprig‘s is a good harissa to invest in as well. When using both these harissa pastes, you will have to use a tablespoon first and adjust as you go because they can both be quite spicy.
Chargrilled eggplant is the perfect foil for these explosive flavours and the pomegranate molasses and fresh pomegranate help cut through all that spice. It would add a new dimension to your mezze to have these little flavour bombs alongside a dish of hummus, or just serve the adjika plain, allowing your guests to pick and choose between little smears of hummus, baba ghanoush and adjika.
Eggplant Roll-Ups With Adjika
Yield 6 as an appetizer
These roll-ups make for a simple and delicious appetiser as part of your mezze board. The adjika can be used in a variety of ways, stirred through hummus, mayo or just smeared over toast with cream cheese.
For The Adjika
Harissa paste 2 tbsp, store-bought brands like Al Fez or Sprig, or make your own
Coriander seeds 1 1/2 tsp
Methi seeds 1 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds 1 1/2 tsp
Walnuts 1/4 cup
Coriander 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Tomato puree 2 tetra packs 200g each
Lemon juice 2 tbsp, plus more
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Turmeric 1 tsp
Garlic 2 cloves
Long eggplants 4-5, cut into long thin slices and salted
Vegetable oil for brushing
Pomegranate molasses 3 tbsp, for brushing
Jewels from 1 pomegranate for finishing
Begin by reducing the tomato puree to a paste. You should have a bit more than 6 tablespoons left in the pan once reduced. Once reduced you want to keep this aside.
Toast the dry seeds on a hot tawa till fragrant, then pulse in a mixer grinder till powdered. To this, add the tomato paste, 1 out of the 2 tbsp of harissa, walnuts and lemon juice and pulse. Add in the chopped coriander, clove of garlic, turmeric, half a teaspoon of salt and the olive oil. Adjust the heat with the second tablespoon of harissa. Blitz and taste. Adjust the salt and the lemon juice till the spice paste is perfectly balanced. It should taste hot with the boom of whole spices and tang from the tomatoes and lemon juice.
Once the paste is ready, set it aside and keep a grill pan to heat over a high flame. As the grill pan heats, brush the eggplant slices with oil. Once the pan is smoking, lay the eggplant on the grill pan, cooking each side for 1-2 minutes or till nicely coloured and grill-marked on both sides. Baste the eggplant slices again mid-way if need be and use tongs to set each slice aside after its done.
Transfer a teaspoonful of the adjika to a slice of eggplant and roll it carefully. Brush the top with pomegranate molasses and sprinkle over the pomegranate pearls before serving.