Paleo Moroccan Zaalouk

I was over at Martine's (my boyfriend's mother who's an amazing chef) last weekend and she made this lovely Moroccan mezze which blew me away. I was roasting a leg of lamb for Sunday lunch and couldn't think of a better side dish than this but would like to add a spin to it and remove sugar to make sure it's still paleo. Zaalouk is essentially a smoked aubergine, tomato and herb mash with a punch of garlic and spices. Beautiful as a side with any meat or as a dip.

serves 3 - 4 as a side dish

4 - 5     small aubergines (3 large)
4           garlic cloves - crushed
500g    tomatoes (around 7 - 8)
2tbsp   light olive oil
2tbsp   extra virgin olive oil
1tsp      sweet paprika powder
1tsp      ground cumin
1tsp      Piment d'Espelette (optional)
1tbsp    light honey
bunch  coriander - finely chopped
bunch  flat leaf parsley - finely chopped
pinch   sea salt
pinch   black pepper


  1. Heat some water in a pot and drop the tomatoes in once the water is boiling. Spoon them out after 5 minutes and leave them to cool before you handle them. Once cool, peel the tomatoes, the skin should come off easily from the blanching in hot water. Spoon out the tomatoes' seeds and wet pulp and chop the remaining flesh. Put aside. 
    ★ Tip ★ I don't throw away the pulp. I keep it in a bowl and re-use them the next day, it went into my Paleo Bolognese with courgetti. 
  2. Drop the chopped tomatoes into a frying pan on medium heat without oil. The goal is for all the liquid in the tomatoes and aubergines to evaporate so that we have a nice paste at the end. Add the crushed garlic and then leave the tomatoes to emit their juices and evaporate.
  3. Whilst we're waiting for the tomatoes to dry out, let's prepare the aubergines. Now there are a few options: 1. Gas hob / Charcoal fire: is the best method. Place a metal grill on top of the gas hob and char your aubergines over the fire. 2. Oven grill: place your aubergines on a baking tray and char it under your oven's grill on the top shelf. 3. Grill pan: Heat your grill to high then char your aubergines (I have a conductive hob so this was my option). However you do it, charring your aubergines' skins till it's black is important to giving your Zaalouk its scrumptious smokey flavour. Burn baby burn!
  4. Once charred, place your hot aubergines in a plastic bag (or a sealed papillote of baking paper if you're worried about BPA toxins). I just placed baking paper over and folded under my grill pan to create a completely closed envelope. This will allow the heat to steam and cook the aubergines further. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  5. Now back to the tomatoes, hopefully most of the juice would have evaporated. Add the paprika and light olive oil. Time to go play a level of Monument Valley whislt you wait for your aubergines to steam and cool down (aubergine sauna!).
  6. Remove the aubergines and scrape / peel off the charred skin. Chop the aubergines into small pieces and add them to your tomato paste.
  7. Mix in the Piment d'Espelette, chopped coriander and parsley. Keep on stirring the mix over medium heat until all the juices from the vegetables have evaporated.
  8. Take off the heat. Squeeze the juice of two fresh lemons and add the honey. The honey will help cut the acidity and bitterness of cooked tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (don't be too careful with the salt, it brings out all the flavours).
  9. Eat warm or leave to rest in the fridge until it's cold. Serve.

I'm Thai so I love my spices. I add some dried chilli flakes into my Zaalouk to give it a kick. I think that if you add some finely chopped shallots it might also give it a slightly crunchy texture. Remember to always have fun and eat clean!