Sofra, a small chain of excellent Turkish restaurants and cafes in London. I remember it was served at room temperature, but it is equally tasty served hot. The trick is to cook it so that the ingredients remain distinct, delicately intertwined, like a Moorish arabesque, rather than cooked to a mush. It can be made in advance and reheated, and, if anything, it is better made a day ahead.
I cook this dish in a large, deep frying pan, on the hob, keeping the lid on until nearly all the liquid has evaporated and a caramelly sauce is left.
1 large onion, finely sliced vertically
3 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Bunch fresh parsley, dill and basil, finely chopped
150ml olive oil
4 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
Juice of half a lemon
Cut the aubergines in half, lengthways, and slash lightly with a knife. Heat some olive oil in the pan and fry the aubergines, flesh-side down, until golden brown. Remove from heat.
Mix the sliced onion, chopped tomatoes and garlic together, and add the herbs. Season with salt and add a little olive oil and the sugar.
Turn the aubergines over and pile the tomato-onion mixture on top of the flesh. Add the water and lemon juice to the pan and bring up to a simmer. Cook covered until the aubergine flesh is soft (about 30 mins).
If I am serving this as a main course, I do a bowl of fluffy couscous. It also goes well with Favourite Salad, or a simple green salad. You can add slices of Halloumi cheese, or Feta.