History connects the eastern coast of Iberia with the lands of the Ottoman empire. There are many links: not only were parts of Spain for centuries under the rule of eastern caliphates who had links with the Ottomans, but the Sephardic Jews went into exile in Ottoman lands, taking with them the cuisine of Iberia. Here, a typical Catalan dish, escalivada, combines with the Ottoman penchant for yoghourt. Binding them, of course, are the scent and the colour of saffron.

Edited_Escalivada - Final

Serves Four

Preparation time:  25 minutes


1 medium-sized aubergine

I red or yellow pepper (green is fine too)

1 red onion sliced into thick pieces

1 cup of natural yoghourt

A small pinch of saffron

A quarter of a teaspoon of turmeric

Salt and pepper to taste

I clove of garlic (crushed)

1 tablespoon of virgin olive oil

A few torn leaves of fresh basil


  1. Preheat the grill to 200C.
  2. Cut the aubergine in half lengthwise and place it on a baking tray under the grill, skin-side up.
  3. Slice the pepper in half lengthwise, scooping out any seeds and white flesh. Once the aubergine have been under the grill for 5 minutes, place the halves of pepper alongside them, skin-side up.
  4. Peel and chop the red onion into thick slices. After the peppers and aubergine have been under the grill for a further 5 – 7 minutes, place the thickly sliced red onion under the grill alongside the other vegetables.
  5. After 10 – 12 minutes, remove the grilled vegetables. The onions should have turned golden and the skin of the aubergine and pepper is scorched.
  6. Let the vegetables cool and then peel off the skin of the aubergine and the pepper. Chop the vegetables and place them in a bowl.
  7. Season the vegetables with the salt, pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil. Throw in some torn basil leaves.
  8. To make the yoghourt sauce, place two small pinches of saffron into a small bowl, with two tablespoons of just-boiled water. Let the yoghourt sit for 5-10 minutes to let the flavour and colour of the saffron infuse.
  9. Stir in the yoghourt, the turmeric, and the garlic.
  10. Pour the yoghourt mixture over the vegetables.
  11. Garnish with some more torn basil.

© Taste Trail Limited, 2014