Chatzilim, or potlajel, is a much-loved Romanian-Israeli salad made of charcoal-grilled aubergines, lemon, garlic and herbs. This version is popular throughout the Levant, where it’s known variously as moutabel, salat chatzilim, or baba ganoush. It includes tahini but can be made without it if someone is allergic to sesame.
The secret to a great smoky flavour is letting the skin of the aubergines blacken, most easily done on a barbecue, but oven-grilling works too. For an extra smoky flavour, hold the cooked aubergine over a gas flame with a pair of metal tongs, or use a kitchen blow torch to lightly char the skin.
Serves: 6 as a dip
Keeps: 5 days in the fridge
Freezes: 3 months
Per serving: 115 cals, 10 g carbs
675 g glossy aubergines
3 sprigs flat leaf parsley
2 medium cloves garlic
4 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp tahini paste
2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp ground coriander
1⁄2 tsp fine sea salt
15 grinds black pepper
1 tsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 230°C/Gas 8 (fan grill if possible). Line a baking tray with foil.
Cut the prickly stems off the aubergines, then prick all over with a fork to stop them bursting as they cook. Place the aubergines directly on the oven rack with the foil lined baking tray on the rack below to catch the drips. Cook for 25-30 minutes, turning once or twice, until the aubergines have begun to collapse and feel absolutely tender when pierced with a skewer.
Meanwhile, discard the coarse stalks from the parsley and put in a food processor with the peeled, thinly sliced garlic. Process until finely chopped.
When cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the aubergines and add to the food processor (don’t worry if some of the skin is attached). Add the lemon juice, tahini, spices and seasonings then pulse until you have a creamy but slightly textured purée. Serve at room temperature in a shallow bowl, sprinkled with parsley, pomegranate seeds, and a drizzle of olive oil.