Spaghetti and Aubergine Bolognese Bake
Spaghetti and Aubergine (Brinjal) Bolognese Bake
Mamta Gupta (Recipe from Africa)
I first had this dish in one of the jungle camps in Zambia on a wildlife trip, in the September of 2004. Most of these camps are situated in the middle of jungles and they are mostly run by young people from South Africa and UK. They serve superb food, cooked from local produce, by local staff, supplemented by weekly orders from the city. Supplies can be interrupted sometimes, so they are experts at adapting recipes to whatever they have in store.
An aubergine and courgette based Bolognese sauce is easy to make, can be served not only with spaghetti but also for making lasagne. You can alter the spices and adapt the recipe for making Shepard’s pie. You can add mushroom. You serve it on it's own, with salad or vegetables. It can be made in advance and re-heated in a hot oven just before serving.
250 gm. spaghetti. You need approximately 80 gm. dry weight spaghetti per person.
For the sauce:
4 tbsp. olive oil (olive oil tastes best with pasta dishes)
1 large or 2 small onion, approximately 200 gm. peeled and chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 large aubergines, (approximately 500-600 gm. total), chopped into cubes. Reduce aubergines, if using additional vegetables like courgettes and mushrooms.
1 1/2 tin or tinned or 2 cartons (550-600 gm.)tomatoes. You can use fresh ones, but peel off the skin by immersing in boiling water for a few minutes.
1-2 tbsp. tomato puree
2 tsp. dry or 2 tbsp. fresh, chopped oregano. You can use basil/‘tulsi’
2 tsp. dry or 2 tbsp. fresh, chopped Parsley
Salt to taste
2 tsp. chilli flakes or powder, adjust to taste
5-6 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese. Other, strong flavoured cheeses can be used instead.
Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt, until soft.
Add aubergines and fry on high for 5 minutes, until just beginning to soften.
Add tomatoes, parsley and oregano, stir.
Stir, cover and cook on medium heat until aubergines are soft (20-30 minutes).
Add chillies and salt, adjusting the amount to taste. I also add a couple of chopped green chillies). Turn heat off.
Meanwhile prepare/cook spaghetti or noodles as per instructions on the packet, cooked a couple of minutes less than instructed, slightly al-dente.
Heat oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas mark 6.
Drain spaghetti and add immediately to the Bolognese sauce. Mix well.
Transfer to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle parmesan/other cheese on top and bake in hot oven until cheese melts and bubbles, usually 15 minutes or so.
Serve hot with green salad.
You can add other chopped vegetables like carrots and mushrooms and courgettes.
While staying in this camp near the Zambezi river, we were charged by a bull elephant! We were walking from our tent to the main building and thought that he was far enough away from us. HE saw us and moved fast!! It was the most frightening sight I have ever witnessed, a full grown male elephant charging straight at us!! It is surprising how quickly you forget the things you are told to do in such an event! Fortunately, I screamed, which apparently stopped it in it’s tracks and there was time for us to run and hide behind a straw wall! Otherwise we would have been history!! Apparently, elephants attack only when they can see you, thank God! We were the trespassers in their world, they have walked there for centuries and had prior claim to it!