This recipe for aubergine fritters with pomegranate salad and labneh is the latest in a monthly series of recipes I have created in association with Suma Wholefoods.
I love aubergines (eggplants) in all forms, but this Middle Eastern influenced variation is a particular favourite.
Labneh is made by straining yoghurt of much of its whey. The longer it has to form the better your labneh will be.
aubergine fritters with pomegranate salad and labneh
for the pomegranate salad
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1. For the labneh, combine the coconut yoghurt, sea salt and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Set a large sieve lined with muslin cloth over a separate clean bowl and carefully tip the yoghurt mixture into the lined sieve. Wrap the muslin around the mixture and twist it at the top, tying it with an elastic band or a piece of string. Leave it sitting in the sieve and set to one side for a minimum of two hours and up to 24, by which time much of the whey from the yoghurt will have dripped into the bowl. What is left in the muslin cloth is the labneh. Carefully remove it from the muslin cloth and place into a clean bowl.
2. Cut the aubergine into half centimetre slices lengthways, each about half a centimetre thick. Set the slices on a board or clean working surface and sprinkle with the sea salt. Leave for 20 minutes, then pat dry with kitchen paper.
3. Place three bowls side by side. Mix together the breadcrumbs, cumin, sumac and lemon zest and place this in the third of the three bowls. In the centre bowl pour the cashew milk. In the first bowl pour the cornflour. This is your “production line”. Have a clean baking tray at the end of this line.
4. Dip each slice of aubergine in the cornflour, making sure it is lightly coated all over. Next, dip this coated slice into the cashew milk, again making sure it is coated all over. Finally dip the coated slice into the breadcrumb mixture, again ensuring it is coated all over. Continue with the remaining slices, placing them on the clean baking tray when completed.
5. For the salad, peel the cucumber and chop into ½ cm cubes. Place in a bowl with the chopped pistachios, pomegranate seeds and chopped mint. Whisk together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses and mustard until emulsified. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
6. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the aubergine fritters and cook for 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. You will need to do this in two or three batches, depending on the size of your pan.
7. To serve, place a generous helping of salad onto each plate. Place two fritters on top. Dot with labneh, scatter with a little chopped mint and finally drizzle with pomegranate molasses.