I absolutely love aubergines... One of my favourite vegetables. They are so versatile, substantual and mouth wateringly delicious. I love that when cooked slowly and completely their creamy texture just melts in the mouth. So if you are an Aubergine fan like me you will enjoy the subtle combination of these egg plant rolls, wrapped around the chewy softness of Mozzarella. The dish comes alive with a wonderful spicey but not hot creamy red lentil coconut sauce. It's really worth doing the prep for this one pot dish that you can whack in the oven and keep warm till required. It's even better on the second day, so make sure you do more than enough.
2 large aubergines, stalks removed, cut lengthways into 0.5cm-thick slices 100ml groundnut oil Salt and black pepper 6 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 5cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced 40 fresh curry leaves (about 4-5 stems) 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1/4 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp medium curry powder 1 tsp tomato paste 1 preserved lemon chopped
2 cloves garlic smashed 100g red lentils 400ml coconut milk 100g large (not baby) spinach leaves, stems removed 400g mozzarella, broken into 2cm chunks 5g coriander, roughly chopped, to serve
Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7.
Lay out the aubergine slices on two large (30cm x 40cm) oven trays lined with baking paper. Brush with two tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with a third of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
Turn over the aubergine slices and repeat, then roast for 20 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Leave to cool.
Put two tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and fry for eight minutes, until golden brown.
Add the ginger, chilli and cook for two minutes, then add the spices, tomato paste, preserved lemons. Stir for a minute, then add the coconut milk, 600ml water and half a teaspoon of salt.
Turn down the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the lentils are soft and the sauce is thick. Pour into a medium (20cm x 30cm) baking dish and set aside.
Put one spinach leaf on top of each slice of aubergine. Put a couple of pieces or two of mozzarella in the middle, then roll up the aubergine, from the thinner end at the top down to the thicker bottom end, so the mozzarella is encased.
Put the aubergine rolls seam-side down in the lentil sauce, and repeat with the remaining aubergine, spinach and mozzarella. Press the rolls gently into the sauce, but not so far that they are submerged.
bake for 15-20 minutes, until the aubergine is golden brown on top and the sauce is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes.
Serve with coriander sprinkled on top.