London is overrun with fantastic options when it comes to the 'umble aubergine. This bulbous purple berry (yes) is enjoying renewed popularity partly due to its status as the rudest emoji of all time. A staple of Middle Eastern and South East Asian cuisine the aubergine has now officially crossed over into the culinary mainstream. Here's a run-down of our favourite aubergine dishes in London.
Imam bayildi at Peckham Bazaar
A classic aubergine dish from Ottoman cuisine, imam biyaldi is apparently so named as it made the Imam faint with pleasure when he tasted it. This is served at many Turkish restaurants, but we think Balkan restaurant Peckham Bazaar makes one of the best versions. Whole aubergines are stuffed with onion, garlic and tomatoes and cooked slowly in lots of olive oil until silky smooth. It's intensely rich and slippery with its combination of melting aubergine and sweet, sticky tomato. It smacks of late summer, so go for this one when the sun lazily drapes the city — the menu at this restaurant changes daily.
Peckham Bazaar, 119 Consort Road, SE15 3RU
Szechuan aubergines at Chick 'n' Sours
This is one of London’s great side dishes, a stunning little bowl of crisp fried aubergine drenched in a bright, punchy hot and sour sauce; it strides confidently alongside their famous fried chicken.
Chick n Sours, see website for locations
Home style aubergine at Silk Road
Aubergine takes sweetness very well, and that is what you'll get from this dish at one of south east London's finest. Soft pads of aubergine flesh are served in a sauce which is almost candied, offset by plenty of chilli, green pepper and onion.
Silk Road, 49 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR
Josperised aubergine at The Palomar
The Palomar exploded onto London's restaurant scene with their lively bar style dining, dancing, shot-necking chefs and turbo charged modern Israeli menu. Flavours are big, and that's what you'll get from this aubergine dish, which is so called as it's cooked on a josper, a sort of grill-oven which uses charcoal. The result is rich, smoky aubergine flesh served with sharp feta and herbs.
The Palomar, 34 Rupert Street, W1D 6DN
Eggplant chips with fennel yoghurt at Spuntino
These have been on the menu since Spuntino opened and are a great snack to nibble when perched at that famous bar. Aubergine sticks are coated in panko crumbs and deep fried until they're satiny within and also as hot as the sun, so do give them a few minutes before tucking in. That said, one of the pleasures here is plunging the hot aubergine into the cool fennel yoghurt.
Spuntino, 61 Rupert Street, W1D 7PW
Aubergine with miso sauce at Roka
We all know that aubergine and miso go together like Ant and Dec, and you'll find them together on many menus in London, but the attention to detail at Roka makes this a great example. It's a simple recipe, made with red and white miso, sake and mirin, which is cooked briefly, brushed onto aubergine slices then cooked over charcoal.
Sichuan aubergine at A Wong
When A Wong opened in Victoria, everyone was grateful because it remains something of a culinary bald patch. Lots here is interesting but you shouldn’t miss the aubergine which is smoky and caramelised, the fruits almost fudgy in texture. It's their version of fish fragrant aubergine, a classic Sichuan dish which doesn't contain any fish, but lots of chilli bean paste and buzzing Sichuan peppercorns.
A Wong, 70 Wilton Road SW1V 1DE