Aubergine shawarma

Aubergine shawarma on pitta bread with black tahini dressing, with a salad of cucumber, tomato, mint and olives

This is my version of a recipe from Honey & Co published in the FT magazine.

It is a bit tedious to make the first couple of times, because there are things you have to do in a sequence and others can be done in parallel (to save time), so it’s a bit hard to visualise it all in your head initially, but once you internalise the instructions (which I’ve also “streamlined” to my liking) it should be fairly fast to get it going.

This is how I see it in my head:

Apart from the flavour itself, what I also really like is that you can cook a big portion of this and keep them in the fridge for easy consumption later. I put them on a box and re-heat a portion on the microwave before serving.

A plate with aubergine shawarma, served with a cucumber and tomato salad and black tahini dressing
A plate with aubergine shawarma, served with a cucumber and tomato salad and black tahini dressing
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Sesame seed bread

Two sesame seed bread loaves cooling down on a rack

Sesame seeds are used mostly as a decorative element in Spanish food, e.g. as topping on burger buns or in “rosquilletas” (a sort of bread-based snack). The dishes with a much stronger presence of sesame seeds were all originating from Andalusia, such as tortas de anís and mantecados—possibly related to the Arab influence, but I’m hypothesising here.

I think I started “sesame seeding” my life after I tried Japanese food for the first time and I wanted to replicate some of the flavours at home. Apparently there was some mysterious ingredient called “sesame seed oil” that provided that extra “something” that my attempts were missing so far (no wonder something was amiss—I was using olive oil to cook Japanese stuff 😅). What a discovery!

Later I progressed to learn how to make hummus at home. It had a mysterious ingredient called tahini…! And once I discovered what it was, I wanted to put it on everything.

Then I started learning about all the sauces and dips you can make that involve tahini: whisk with a bit of water and it turns into a smooth dip. Add some garlic and it becomes nicely punchy. Or you can add lemon and yoghurt and it’s tangy and addictive. So many variations! All of them so tasty!

Of course, I also learned about the Divine Trinity: cumin, nigella and sesame seeds sprinkled on crackers or anything that deserves a good oomph. And there’s also my beloved dukkah, which you might have heard me talk rave about already many times.

But—and this is a big but—neither of these recipes really puts sesame front and center. I wanted to make something that would unashamedly declare its sesameness. Something where “sesame” was in the name of the recipe.

And so I came up with this sesame seed bread!

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Dukkah

A jar of home made dukkah

Having this in your kitchen will not literally change your life… but it will be quite close because you’ll want to add it to almost everything!

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Carquinyols (Vall d’Albaida style)

Carquinyols / casquinyols in a saucer

This is the type of low-key sweet that you would get on a visit to the bakery—go to buy a bread loaf, and come back with that but also half a quarter of these for your mid-morning coffee.

Unfortunately, someone in my family has developed a nut allergy so they’re not casually acquired anymore, and they’re also quite regional so I haven’t had the chance to find them in my most recent visits to Valencia. And then, there’s lockdown and no travelling, so… time to bake some, as I’ve been craving these for a while!

They’re quite easy to make, so if you are tired of baking cookies and shortbreads and feel like attempting something more exotic, try this. (I mean, at this point going to a different supermarket a few blocks away already feels super “exotic”, so imagine baking something typical from two countries away!)

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