I’ve got a bit of a thing for aubergines and Sabrina Ghayour. ‘Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head’… ooh, I went a bit ‘sing song’ there.
Yes, I know, aubergines are one of those things that you either love or hate. But, before you dismiss this waxy, purple coloured, strange shaped veggie, hear me out. There’s lots of very interesting facts about them, oh yes…For instance, did you know that they are approximately the same size as a human spleen? This is what inspired the first script that I wrote called ‘Spleens and Aubergines’, a short piece performed at Milton Keynes Theatre at a new writing event. Our daughter and I had to make a papier mache aubergine as a prop, which we particularly fell in love with… it sat on our work top for many weeks after and then we suddenly prodded it with a fork and it deflated and was laid to rest. We will never forget it…
I love aubergines. Not only the taste, but their character. When I was pregnant with our daughter, she used to lay in my tummy with her bottom in the air, and my stomach had the appearance of an aubergine. So, we called her EP (Eggplant) all the way through pregnancy and, occasionally, even now. At thirteen, she finds this a little disturbing.
Only this week, I was contacted by a chap who had read a piece in a local magazine about that play I had performed and told me all about his book he’s writing about the fine vegetable. So, I’m not alone.
So, as well as admiring the veg, in our house we eat aubergines probably three times a week, and this comes from our love of Mediterranean cooking. From Imam Byaldi to just plain, roasted aubergine, we can’t get enough of it (when I say ‘we’ I mean my husband and I. Daughter is a teenager who does not find veggies cool, innit). And, you’ve probably already guessed that I love all things Turkish, seeing as I based my book there (Friendship, Love and Apple Tea) and have visited, well, a lot… definitely in double figures. As well as the lovely people, the sunshine, beautiful scenery and special friends, I also adore the food – Adana Kebabs, Imam Byaldi, borek…
So, there I was a few weeks ago watching Saturday Kitchen, in my dressing gown as is quite normal, not quite paying attention as I’m normally writing or talking to the dog when it’s on, when I suddenly heard the chef mentioning ingredients that I particularly love. And so I watched. And I loved it so much, my husband had ordered the cookery book by the time the show ended and it was delivered the following day. ‘Persiana‘ by Sabrina Ghayour.
Now, if you didn’t watch her on the show, you missed a real treat as the meal she prepared looked absolutely gorgeous. Persian Herb Rice, packed with coriander, parsley and chives. She explained how that particular rice dish is a very special one that is often eaten at the Persian New Year coinciding with the Spring Equinox and has rather a lot of butter added (which made James Martin very happy). She was such a joy to watch, so smiley and happy, and bubbling with enthusiasm about Persian food.
The biggest surprise, with not only that recipe but generally all in the book, is that the food is fairly easy to make. Which, when you’re working full time and making papier mache veg in your precious spare minutes, is very important.
As Sabrina explains in her introduction to the book, ‘no mess, no fuss, just simple and delicious food’. A day after the book arrived we all ate a real Persian and Mediterranean feast, which included: Aubergine and Yoghurt, Persian herb frittata, Adana Kebabs and roasted carrots. And, I haven’t been able to stop cooking Sabrina’s recipes since.
Never before have I been so excited by a cookery book. If you love the food and flavours of the Middle East, please give this chef a try. Look up the lovely Sabrina Ghayour. For the ‘chefs’ amongst you, she even runs cookery evenings where you get to make a meal and then eat together. I have GOT to book a place!
So, I’m hoping that we all get cooking along with Sabrina, and, even make a papier mache aubergine to watch over us at the hob, should the need and enthusiasm arise. Which, I can’t see why it wouldn’t. We’ve all surely considered doing it? No? Oh, just me then…