Egyptian Mesa’a’ah, a Spiced Aubergine Dip with Tahini Yoghurt

Last weekend I made a plate of Egyptian fava bean falafels (ta’miyah) for the first time and they were, by far, the best I’ve made to date; super crispy on the outside and crumbly and moist on the inside. I’m tweaking the recipe at the moment but look out for it soon. To accompany them and a pyramid of Arabic bread, I recreated two classic Egyptian mezze dishes: Mesa’a’ah, tiny squares of fried aubergine cooked down with tomatoes, allspice, cayenne pepper and mint stirred through with green harissa and a richly creamy yoghurt, tahini, garlic, mint and lemon sauce.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the aubergine:
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 aubergine, cut into 1cm cubes
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Half tsp sugar
Half tsp ground allspice
1 tsp rose harissa
1 lemon, zested and juiced
A handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns
2 tbsp green harissa, to serve (optional)

For the yoghurt:
500ml Greek yoghurt
4 tbsp tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed and finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
A handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground mixed peppercorns

How I make it

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat, add 3 tbsp of olive oil and the aubergine and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool on a plate covered with kitchen paper.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and fry the garlic until golden brown. Add the tomatoes, the sugar, allspice and harissa and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the aubergine to the pan and gently simmer for a further five minutes. Add the lemon juice and set aside to cool before adding the mint and seasoning to your taste. Stir through the green harissa (if using) and garnish with the lemon zest. Serve at room temperature.

For the tahini yoghurt, simply mix all the ingredients together and chill before serving.

Serve as part of a mezze spread – with my Shuk Ha’Carmel green herb chickpea falafel falafel if you fancy making them – with Arabic bread.

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