Iranian style pasta
A wonderful Yotam Ottolenghi dish that ranks as one of the most unusual (and delicious) dishes we tried during our vegetarian bonanza. There are quite a few elements to it but we felt the final dish was worth every bit of effort.
NB: the side dish in the pic is also Ottolenghi’s and he calls it ‘sprouting broccoli with sweet tahini’. It’s in his book Plenty More.
*In many of Ottolenghi’s incredible recipes he uses ingredients that are true to the roots of the dish, but sometimes a little tricky to get hold of. However, he always suggests an easy-to-source alternative and, in the case of this recipe, I used the easy alternative instead of the kashk and the reshteh noodles. I’ve no idea what it would have tasted like with the originals, but it was certainly delicious with the alternatives.
I’ve also made tiny tweaks to quantities and cooking times in some places.
Preheat the oven to 230°C / 210°C Fan / Gas 8.
Pierce the aubergines in a few places with a sharp knife, place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and roast in the oven for about 1 hour, until the flesh is completely soft. Set aside until cool enough to handle before cutting in half and spooning out the flesh into a colander to drain for at least 30 minutes. Discard the skin.
Place the kashk paste in a small saucepan with 50ml of water. Bring to a simmer on a medium heat, stir, then set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a medium sauté pan and place on a medium heat. Add the onion and cumin seeds and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Roughly chop or tear up the aubergine flesh before tipping it into the pan along with the garlic, 1 tsp salt and some black pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes before adding the lime juice. Stir through for a final minute and then remove from the heat.
Add the yoghurt to the kashk pan and heat on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Keep an eye on the mixture as you don’t want the yoghurt to split.
Mix the dried mint with 2 tbsp of the oil and set aside.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook according to the packet instructions. Drain and then stir 2 tbsp of oil through the pasta, mix and then divide between shallow bowls.
Drizzle over the mint oil, followed by the aubergine. Top this with the kashk, followed by saffron water, fresh mint and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve.
Although the mix of flavours this dish is highly unusual, nothing is too powerful and the overall impression is soft, garlicy and creamy.
You can go for a fuller-flavoured white (like Assyrtiko) or reds work well too – we enjoyed it with a Mallorcan red, the Santa Maria del Camí Binissalem from Macià Batle. The more offbeat and original the better!