Elisabeth's Tortilla de Berejena
The spicing in this unusual tortilla is distinctly Moorish, as indeed is the absence of potato, a New World ingredient unknown in Andalucia at the time of the Moorish ascendency. I first came across it in the Bar Los Gigantes in Seville during Holy Week, a friendly time of year when everyone is happy to talk to everyone else. My neighbour on the bar-stool looked over at my choice and smiled: “Comida moro – Moorish food,” she said. “I like it too.”
Serves 4 as a tapas
4 large free-range eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large firm aubergines, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, skinned and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon powdered cumin
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered coriander
Salt and pepper
Crack the eggs into a bowl and fork to blend, and reserve. Heat the oil in a small frying pan – about the size you’d use to make a 1 person omelette. Add the garlic and fry gently for a moment or two - just enough to soften. Add the aubergine cubes, salt lightly and fry steadily, turning the cubes so the heat reaches all sides - they'll drink up the oil like little sponges.
Carry on frying until the aubergine begins to soften, releasing oil back into the pan. Tip off and reserve the excess oil. Sprinkle in the spices then turn down the heat, lid and leave the aubergine to cook gently in its own juices for 15-20 minutes until perfectly soft. Remove the lid and bubble up to evaporate the juices - the mixture should not be watery.
Tip the aubergine into a bowl and allow to cool to finger-heat. Mash well and mix into the egg – you can do this in a processor if you prefer. Reheat the pan. As soon as the metal is good and hot, add the reserved oil. Tip in the egg-mixture and use a fork to pull the sides to the middle as soon as the edges begin to set. Turn down the heat, lid loosely and cook gently for 5-6 minutes, until the top begins to look set. Place a plate on top of the pan - it should completely cover the pan - and reverse the whole thing so the tortilla ends up soft-side down on the plate.
Reheat the pan with a little more oil and slip in the tortilla cooked-side up. Neaten the edges with a spatula as the mixture firms – it’ll only need a couple more minutes to brown the underside. Slip it out onto a warm plate. Pat with kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and serve warm or at room-temperature, never cold. In the Bar Los Gigantes, they serve it on a wooden board with a sprig of rosemary and a little sauce of fresh goat’s cheese sweetened with honey.