an adventure into my cookbook collection: soul-searching, doing things differently & the truths I learn along the way...

deseeding pomegranates is feminine & erotic, unless you hit them with a wooden spoon...


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Aubergine, butternut squash and chestnut tagine

So you probably know by now that I have a pretty serious cookbook-buying habit. Three years on and it doesn’t seem to be abating. I have decided to embrace it, and call myself a collector.

I think I get the cookbook obsession from my Mum – there is an enormous bookcase devoted to cookbooks in her kitchen (you can see it in the background of my profile picture) and its contents have always fascinated me. One of the best things in the bookcase was a very tattered ring binder containing thirty-odd years of recipes torn out of magazines, or copied onto scraps of paper. It is completely full and scraps of paper, crunchy from old sellotape or pritt-stick, fall out whenever anyone opens it.

I started with my own recipe folder about five years ago, hoping that I could create something like it, but pretty much forgot about it when I started this blog. I picked up the recipe binder a few weeks ago, and flicking through it I found this recipe. I can’t remember the context of why I printed it in the first place, but it sounded so good I just had to try it out. Rich and warming, this is a perfect vegan stew for this time of year. It doesn’t taste quite as authentic as my previous tagine recipe, but it is much less work.


1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, diced not too fine
2 crumbled dried chillies
3 garlic cloves, crushed
About 4 dates, pitted and finely chopped
2-3cm lump fresh ginger, grated or finely diced
2 small-medium aubergines, diced relatively unevenly, between 2 and 4 cm
1 smallish butternut squash, deseeded and cut into similar pieces to the aubergine
200g pack cooked, peeled chestnuts (not the frozen kind)
2 cans chopped tomatoes
2 small preserved lemons, skin only, finely chopped (optional)
Handful each chopped fresh mint, parsley and coriander, plus extra to garnish
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes. Then add the spices, chillies, garlic, dates and ginger and fry for a further 5 minutes, until the onion is softened and everything is starting to break down and get really fragrant.

Add the aubergines, squash and chestnuts and stir to coat in the spices. Add 100ml water, the tomatoes, and preserved lemon if using, put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn the heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, until the veggies are soft.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, and stir in the fresh lemon juice and herbs when ready to serve.

Would go very well with this couscous dish, and Moroccan carrot salad.

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