This aubergine-wrapped chicken hails from Turkey, featuring two ingredients beloved of Turkish cooks – yoghurt and aubergine. Chicken is marinaded in a punchy combination of yoghurt, garlic, lemon, turmeric and Aleppo pepper, wrapped in silky sleeves of aubergine and cheese, covered with tomato passata and baked. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Have you already read our review of Sally Butcher’s new cookbook, Meze? Full of plenty more delicious snacks, small plates and street food from the Middle East, this is a great book for anyone who loves punchy flavours.
For the marinade:
- 3 plump chicken breasts,skinned and off the bone
- 3 tbsp plain yogurt
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 level tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp Aleppo pepper, or substitute 2 tsp paprika with a pinch of chilli flakes/ red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 large aubergines (eggplants)
- 125 g (4½oz /1 1⁄4 cups grated kashkaval cheese (OK – Cheddar will do)
- handful of fresh mint, shredded
- cocktail sticks or bamboo skewers, presoaked and halved
- 400 ml (14fl oz /1 3⁄4 cups) tomato passata (strained tomatoes) or juice
Lay each chicken breast flat, then slice through them horizontally so that you end up with 4 very thin slices from each one (a nice butcher might do this for you). Beat the yogurt with all the other marinade ingredients, then immerse the chicken in the mixture. Chill for at least 2 hours; 6–8 would be better.
When you are ready-ish to cook, slice the aubergines thinly lengthways: again you need 12 slices. Rub each slice with salt and leave pressed between some sheets of kitchen paper for around 20 minutes. At the end of this time, wipe the aubergines dry, then fry them in hot oil just until they are soft and floppy. Drain them on more kitchen paper and allow them to cool just a little.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6.
Place a slice of aubergine in front of you and sprinkle it with grated cheese and a sprinkle of mint. Remove a chicken slice gently from the marinade and layer it on top of the aubergine, then roll the whole thing up into a sausage. Secure the bundle with a cocktail stick and repeat with the rest of the slices. Place the aubergine rolls in an ovenproof dish, and pour the passata around them. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes; then cover with foil and cook for a further 15 minutes.
Serve the parcels with a diced tomato, onion and cucumber salad, some yogurt and hot pitta bread. And don’t forget to remove the cocktail sticks before tucking in.
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Recipe extracted from Meze: Snacks, Small Plates and Street Food from the Middle East, by Sally Butcher with permission from publisher Pavilion Books. Image credit to Yuki Sugiura. Currently available from Amazon UK (at time of publishing) for £9.56 (RRP £12.99).