A feast of flavours: Middle Eastern style Aubergines with my Cape Malay inspired meatballs

I love the fragrant and bold flavours used in Middle Eastern cooking, and also the simple ingredients used. I also love the style of eating – very casual and laid-back, incorporating all the senses.
You need to touch the food, eat with your hands; experience the smell, get carried away by it; see all the beautiful dishes and of course taste the delightful flavours, all the while some fabulous music plays in the background – voila, the scene is set!
A friend of mine prepared the most delicious aubergine {my absolute favourite vegetable!} dish for our monthly book club get-together and I just had to re-create it at home.
Buttery soft aubergines, delicately spiced with cumin and paprika, drenched in a tangy lemon and garlic dressing – yum.
I teamed these up with Cape Malay inspired meatballs and a huge bowl of butter lettuce. Fantastic – you could eat with your hands! {A mini mezze platter…}

The meatballs hinted of a bobotie, with golden sultanas and a hint of apricot, alongside fragrant curry spices.

All the elements of this dish is totally Paleo- and Banting-friendly, except perhaps for the teaspoon of apricot jam used… But you could leave that out. Or not, I don’t think a teaspoon will hurt anyone.

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For the aubergines, you will need:

Baby aubergines, as many as you want, halved
Olive oil
Salt
Cumin
Paprika
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Heat a large glug of olive oil in a large pot or pan. Start by placing the aubergines in the pan, with the sliced side down. Get them nice and brown, then turn them over and salt the cooked side. Let the skin side also brown – you might need a bit more olive oil, as they tend to suck it up like a sponge. Once both sides have been browned, place the lid on and let them steam for a few minutes, just to soften them up nicely.
While they’re still hot, sprinkle with a tiny bit of paprika and cumin, then scatter the zest and garlic on top and drizzle with the lemon juice.

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For the meatballs, you will need:

Roughly 800g of minced meat {I used Eland, a type of game meat}
Salt to taste
1 egg
1/2 a cup of sultanas
1 tsp smooth apricot jam
2 tbs curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
Zest of 1 orange

Sauté the onion until soft, then add the curry powder, turmeric and cumin and fry until fragrant. Set aside.
Next, mix all the rest of the ingredients, as well as the onion and spices. Make sure you mix it thoroughly.
Heat up some olive oil and fry one meatball to make sure you’ve added enough salt.
If you’re happy, roll the rest of the mixture into bite-sized balls and fry on all sides until golden and cooked through.

Serve with the aubergines and some butter lettuce – simple, delicious, totally satisfying!

Enjoy! X

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