Aubergine Dip and a Review of The Cranks Bible
An unctuous aubergine dip that’s a little reminiscent of guacamole. Lightly flavoured with garlic and smoked paprika, once started, it’s hard to stop dipping.
The Cranks Bible: a timeless collection of vegetarian recipes by Nadine Abensur is one of my treasured cookery books. I bought it when it was first published in 2001 and have taken inspiration from it ever since. Despite its frequent use as a bed time read, there are many recipes I’ve barely looked at. The one for aubergine purée with cumin pitot is one such, or in my more prosaic terminology, aubergine dip.
The Cranks Bible
The original edition of The Cranks Bible has sadly gone out of print. But to celebrate its 15th anniversary, Orion in association with Cranks, has just published a new paperback edition. The recipes are exactly the same as the original except for one important addition – ta da – my recipe for cashew nut butter brownies. Yes, that’s right, I’m up there with Nadine Abensur, mine is the very first recipe in the book.
How did it get there I hear you ask? After my amazing award of Best Food Blogger in the South West, I’m getting a bit more used to strutting my stuff. I won best recipe in a Cranks competition and this was the reward. Excitingly, I have three copies to give away to my readers. You’ll find details of how to enter at the bottom of the post.
The original book is a lovely large purple hardback, with beautiful photographs that make you want to dive right in. The new edition must be aimed at the more serious cook as there are no photographs. I like pictures in a book as it gives me an idea as to what I should be aiming at, but not having them in does make for a much lighter and more portable book. You could easily stow it away in your bag for a bit of food inspiration on the daily commute or long train journey. Or is that just me?
It’s decidedly cheaper too with an RRP of just £9.99. I approve of the retro cover and the featured vegetable must have been whispering aubergine dip to me.
The book has a new introduction from Nadine, celebrating the rise of the whole foods that Cranks had pioneered way back in the 1960s. She also urges caution: demonising specific ingredients and food groups might be premature and detrimental in the long term. I have to agree with her, look at how the received wisdom on fat has changed over the last couple of decades. And the jury’s still out as to whether olive oil or rapeseed is better.
Nadine Abensur is passionate about good vegetarian food made from wholesome ingredients. If some of them can be home grown, so much the better. Inspired by an eclectic mix of cuisines, her recipes are interesting, healthy and most importantly, mouthwatering. They’re very much written with the home cook in mind and a number of tips are peppered throughout.
I particularly like the way the book is organised; it has chapters on spring & summer vegetables and autumn & winter vegetables, but each of these are subdivided into recipes for specific items. My aubergine dip, for example, is in the Aubergine section; as well as having a number of recipes where the humble egg plant is the main ingredient, it cross-references other recipes in the book where aubergines are also included.
Further chapters are organised in a similar way: beans & pulses, pasta & some alternatives, rice & some other grains, dressings, oils & vinegars, fruit & nuts, bread, biscuits & baking and much to my delight, chocolate & cream. I’m not going to tell you which is my favourite recipe (of the ones I’ve made), because one day I will blog my adaptation of it.
But I’ve tried my hand at a fair few and there are even more that I’ve bookmarked. One such is chocolate and almond meringue, a heady affair of almond meringue layered with chocolate mousse and chantilly cream.
Slightly healthier offerings include: Japanese noodle salad with Thai overtones, a quick aromatic laksa and pasta pouches with pumpkin and mango chutney. I could go on, but with 200 recipes to choose from, you’ll have to take my word that there’s something for everyone and for every occasion.
I’m by no means a fussy eater, but I’m a bit funny about aubergines. I think I ate a dodgy moussaka, at the tender age of eighteen, when I was still a meat eater and it rather put me off. But I can’t avoid them for ever it seems. One turned up in my veg box recently, so as I cannot abide waste, I was forced into doing something with it.
Time to turn to The Cranks Bible and see if I could find something to tempt me. The first recipe I saw was for an aubergine dip. Now I’m very familiar with baba ghanoush from my days in Egypt, but I tend to avoid it if I can. I adore tahini and hummus, but I’ll pass on the aubergines. However this recipe, despite its obvious Middle Eastern origins, did not include tahini. I thought I’d give it a go, with an odd tweak here and there – of course!
It’s not quite as easy as some dips to make, when you just chuck everything into a blender and blitz. But it isn’t difficult either. You just need to cook the aubergine, shallot and garlic first. You can either roast them in the oven or fry them on the stove top. I chose the latter method.
Once cooked, you finally get to throw them into a blender or food processor, along with most of the other ingredients. The olive oil, you drizzle in slowly as you would for mayonnaise. This emulsifies the aubergine dip so it hangs together in a wonderful silky fashion.
I served it with the suggested wholemeal pitta breads toasted with olive oil and cumin seeds. And do you know what? I really liked it. CT and I polished the whole lot off in a few short minutes. Could this aubergine dip be the perfect antidote to memories of a malevolent moussaka?
Other Aubergine Dip Recipes You Might Like
- Afgani burani bonjon via A Seasonal Veg Table
- Eggplant dip (mtabbal) via Little Sunny Kitchen
- Smoky tomato & aubergine relish via Food to Glow
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Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this aubergine dip, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
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Aubergine Dip – The Recipe
Aubergine Dip (vegan friendly)
- 1 large aubergine - cut into medium sized chunks
- 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- 1 shallot - chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - chopped
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves - finely chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergines for about 5 minutes over a moderate heat.
- Add the shallot and garlic and fry for a further 5 minutes or until the aubergines are golden and soft.
- Whiz in a blender or food processor along with the lemon juice and paprika until the mixture has turned into a chunky or smooth purée depending on preference.
- Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin oil whilst continuing to blend at a moderate speed - as if you were making mayonnaise.
- Spoon into a bowl and mix in the coriander.
The Crank Bible Giveaway (3 copies)
I won this book as part of a competition prize. There was no requirement to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own. The post contains affiliate links. Buying through a link to a power blender will not cost you any more, but I will get a small commission. This helps to keep Tin and Thyme blithe and blogging.