MMM…marrow. That’s really the only way to describe the flesh of this eggplant once it’s been roasted into a spreadable pulp. The garlic, nestled into its flesh, heads in the same direction and is protected there from burning. Spooned from the skin it would be enjoyable on it’s own, but it was that very marrow-like texture that got me thinking…
I used to loooove marrow as a kid and my parents saved almost all of the marrow from goat curry bones and big peppery lamb stew bones for me (this is basically the definition of love). Once I was reminded of the experience when I tasted the melting flesh of this garlic-spiked eggplant, I sought a spicy compliment, something close to the flavours I missed from the marrow I used to devour in those childhood dishes. The Marsala wine and tamarind brought the richness and peppery-ness I was after, and the mango chutney and onions tempered it with sweetness reminded me of the slight candy flavour at the end of the bone where the marrow sort of caramelizes.
But I tested this sauce over and over and it was still missing something. I found it in a bottle…
(Above images photographed by James Piper)
A bottle of Pickapeppa sauce! Prior to that I’d added more pepper, more chutney, but in the end I turned to the spicy, black pepper, syrupy notes in Pickapeppa–a tablespoon was all I needed. I think you will love this easy but deep sauce and the punch it adds to this perfect roasted vegetable. I used the leftover sauce from tests as a condiment of it’s own, in fact, then I moped what was left over with pieces of bread so don’t be afraid to make even more. You’ll probably find it goes perfectly with something you love to eat too.
This was the starter for our special dinner, and it’s the kind of start that promises more good things to come.
Roasted Garlic and Eggplant Marrow with Marsala, Mango and Tamarind Sauce
3 small Italian eggplants or regular Japanese eggplants
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 cl garlic, sliced
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Meanwhile, slice the eggplants in half lengthwise, through the stems. Carve a deep crisscross pattern through the flesh. Don’t worry about piercing the skin in places. Brush each eggplant with oil, spreading apart the flesh to make sure the oil gets deep into the cuts. Season with salt and stud the eggplant halves with slices of garlic, pushing them into the slits. Nestle eggplant halves, cut side up, into a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Meanwhile make the sauce.
For the sauce:
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 c finely chopped onion (roughly 1/2 medium onion)
2 cl garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 tbs mango chutney
1 tbs Pickapeppa sauce
1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 c Marsala wine
1/4 c water
Heat oil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until browned, about 12-15 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add the garlic and thyme, mix well and cook for 1 minute. Add the chutney, Pickapeppa sauce, tomato paste, tamarind paste, salt and pepper. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Add Marsala wine and water, mix and simmer for 5 minutes more. Serve hot, to be drizzled over eggplant at the table.
Serve with torn baguette pieces for spreading the roasted garlic and eggplant marrow and sauce onto, and a small spoon to scoop out the goodness from the skin.