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Spiced smoky aubergine pasties

Makes about 5 pastries (depending on size)

· 1 white onion

· Vegetable oil

· 1 large aubergine

· 4 cloves of garlic, grated, diced or finely sliced.

· 2 large, fresh tomatoes, diced (or ½ tin of tomatoes). Remove the seeds from the tomatoes if you like- these can be blended into a gazpacho or salad dressing.

· 1 tbsp of tomato puree

· Fresh thyme- lots (about 2 dozen sprigs)

· 1 scotch bonnet pepper (or chilli flakes)

· Salt- or Stock powder or soy sauce (optional)

· Black pepper

· 1 tin of dark beans such as aduki beans, kidney beans, black beans or navy beans.

Spices (ground, or freshly ground from whole spices) 2 tsp cumin

3 tsp of allspice/pimento 1 tsp of turmeric 3 tsp of paprika (or smoked paprika, for extra smokiness)

· 500g Shortcrust pastry. Bought or homemade. If making it yourself, 2 tsp of turmeric can be added too.

1. Wash the aubergine and make small incisions using the tip of a knife. Also cut back the green top so that it doesn’t burn.

2. Turn a gas hob to full heat and place the aubergine directly onto it. You may want to put some tinfoil underneath the ring as it might get messy! Char the aubergine with the flame for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally. Cook until the black skin has burnt and become ashen and the skin is dry. The inside of the flesh should feel very soft. The larger end of the aubergine is the hardest to cook all the way through- stand it upright on the flame (using tongues if necessary) to cook it all the way through. If you don’t have a gas hob, the aubergine can be roasted in a very hot oven for the same amount of time. Or under a hot grill, turning occasionally. Smoked paprika can be added to your sauce for extra smoky flavour.

3. Once the aubergine is charred, place in a pan with a lid on a leave it to cool for 15-20minutes while you make the sauce. When it’s cool enough to handle. Peel the charred skin off (it’s okay if a few flecks are left on). Roughly chop the aubergine flesh.

4. For the sauce: dice the onion and add to small pan with a little oil (about 1 tbsp) and a pinch of salt. Heat on a medium flame to soften the onions. Once they are translucent add the garlic and cook through for another 3-5minutes.

5. Add the tomato puree and the tomato flesh. Cook this for 3-5minutes.

6. Add the spices and cook for 1 minute.

7. Add the tin of beans (including the water) and mash slightly to break up the beans. The water will help the flavours stew, but it will be boiled off later to make the filling the right consistency.

8. Pick the leaves of the thyme sprigs and add to the sauce. Add the stripped sprigs and remove at the end.

9. Add the scotch bonnet. For mild flavour, make an incision with a knife and add to the sauce. For a medium heat, cut it in half and add. Keep tasting the sauce and remove the chilli when the sauce is the right heat. For a spicier sauce, chop the chilli up and cook into the sauce.

10. Add the chopped aubergine flesh and simmer everything together for 5 minutes.

11. For saltiness, add stock powder (2-3 tsp) or soy sauce (about 15mls) or simply season with salt.

12. For extra smokiness, more smoked paprika or smoke essence can be added.

13. Cook the sauce for long enough that it isn’t too wet (as it’s going to a pasty filling). Season with black pepper and add more spices if you prefer.

14. Once the sauce is ready, leave to cool fully.

15. For a bit of richness, a spoonful of butter/vegan butter can be added to the sauce.

16. To make the pasties, roll out your pastry to about 0.5 to 1 cm thick. Cut into squares and add a little cold filling. Fold over to form a pastry and use a bowl to trim the pastry into a semi-circle. Alternative, cut the pastry into circles first. Seal the pasties with a fork. The filling can also be used for a larger pie or a square pastry, or a Cornish pasty shape.

17. Chill the pastries for a least 10 minutes (cover them if leaving longer, or overnight). Brush the outside with plant milk or egg wash (optional) and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 180°C for 30-40minutes until cooked all the way through, especially on the bottom. Can be eaten hot or cold.

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