I love aubergines and I think every other recipe I post has aubergines in it! But what’s there not to love about it? It’s delicious and nutritious. I’m not vegetarian, at least not yet, but have been trying to cut meat from our meals as much as I can. Using aubergines helps me balance the flavour of vegetarian dishes, on their own or with mushrooms for added protein.
My desire to eat less or no meat has led me to “invent” quite a few dishes that had not been in my repertoire before, including this delicious pilaf which I made a couple of weeks ago. It turned out even better than I had imagined and looked really good too.
Bulghur pilafs can be found in many of Iran’s regional cuisines. These recipes usually call for mixing bulghur with rice or lentils. There is also one made with noodles which is really delicious.
Since I was making this one with aubergine I decided to go for aubergine tahdig. What’s tahdig? Bear with me, I’m going to explain that right now.
Tahdig is a layer of crispy, golden rice (or other things) coming from the bottom of the rice pot. Iranians love this and there is usually a ritual of fighting over the tahdig at the table to determine who gets the biggest share. Bulghur is treated in the same way. Even pasta, but that’s another story!
Making good tahdig, nicely coloured and crispy, is an art and the sign of the competency of a cook. Thin flatbread, potato slices or other sliced vegetables are often laid in the bottom of the pot (whatever we are making, rice, pasta, bulgur) for other kinds of tahdig. Aubergine is one of the tastiest.
The aubergine slices turned beautifully golden, caramelised and nicely soft with crispy bulghur surrounding the slices. yum yum! To make tahdig you need to use a non-stick coated or ceramic saucepan or pot. It’s really worth investing in a good one for cooking rice and pilafs. You get a nice crust and nothing is wasted. It’s easier to clean afterwards too.
Bulghur is cooked, pounded and dried wheat. It comes in different sizes. I used medium grain (coarse) to give texture to the pilaf. Finer bulghur is better suited for making salads.
Vegetarian may like to add a minty yoghurt and cucumber topping to this dish like I do. The ingredients and recipe are listed below.
So to make this lovely pilaf for four people you will need the following ingredients:
For the yoghurt and cucumber topping (for non-vegans):