½ cup walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
100g blue cheese or grated parmesan
100ml Greek yoghurt
100ml sour cream
3 eggplants
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a handful of herbs such as mint, dill or tarragon, chopped
flatbread (I used sangak bread from Ziba Café in Henderson, Auckland) and pickles, to serve

Yoghurt dips are an important part of Persian meals. One of my favourites is an eggplant dip with walnuts, topped with yoghurt or kashk – fermented, dried milk whey. Kashk, which can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores, has a pungent, sour cheesy taste when rehydrated; it is unique but you can make an approximation by combining sour cream, crème fraîche or yoghurt with strong cheese such as parmesan or a blue. If you don’t fancy that, just use plain yoghurt.


1.Heat the oven to 160°C.
2.Toast the walnuts on a baking tray for 8-10 minutes.
3.Cool and roughly chop. Set aside.
4.Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and fry the onions for 20 minutes with a good sprinkle of salt until very dark golden, then drain on paper towels.
5.If you remove the onions with tongs, you can use the flavoured oil for other things.
6.Put the cheese in a bowl and mash with a fork, then stir in the yoghurt and sour cream. Set aside.
7.Prick the eggplants and place directly over the flame of a gas burner or barbecue, or under a preheated grill, turning until completely blackened and very soft.
8.Put in a bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let them sweat for 10 minutes.
9.Peel off all the blackened skin and discard along with the stalk.
10.Chop the flesh roughly, combine in a bowl with the smoked paprika and extra virgin olive oil and season to taste with salt.
11.Arrange on a platter then top with spoonfuls of yoghurt mix, walnuts, fried onion and a scattering of herbs.
12.Serve with pickles and flatbreads.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Jessica Hemmings

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