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Whipped Yellow Peas with Spicy Aubergine and Fennel

Rich Harris
The trick to this dish is not overcooking the aubergines. They need to be just cooked through so that they’re fairly soft, but still holding their shape. If you take them too ?far you won’t get the contrast in texture between them and the silky smooth peas. ?A cautionary note about harissa; the level of heat varies greatly depending on where you buy it (the supermarket stuff tends to be more gentle, whereas the Tunisian variety in tubes is pretty fiery stuff). With that in mind, add it gradually and to taste.
Course Main, Side
Servings 4 servings


For the split peas:

  • 350 g dried yellow ? split peas
  • 1 teaspoon ground ? turmeric
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 750 ml Vegetable Stock ? page 200
  • 3 tablespoons extra ? virgin olive oil

For the spicy aubergine:

  • 4 medium aubergines
  • olive oil for frying
  • 3 garlic cloves ? peeled and crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ? cumin seeds
  • 3 tablespoons ? tomato purée
  • 1 –2 tablespoons ? harissa paste
  • 450 ml Vegetable Stock ? page 200
  • 2 teaspoons red wine ? vinegar

For the fennel:

  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • pinch of sea salt
  • juice of ½ lemon


  • Rinse the split peas, then leave them to soak in cold water for 1 hour. Drain, then tip into a heavy-based saucepan with the turmeric, garlic and salt. Pour over the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 1 hour until almost all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the spicy aubergine. Cut each aubergine widthways into thirds, then slice each piece into wedges. ?Heat a splash of oil in a deep frying pan and fry, in batches, over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until golden, transferring to a plate lined with kitchen paper as you go. Return all the aubergine to the pan, then increase the heat, add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and fry for a further minute, then add the tomato purée and harissa to taste and fry for 2 minutes. Pour over the stock – it will bubble up viciously at this point, so stand back to avoid getting splattered – and cook for 3–4 minutes until the liquid has mostly been absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar.
  • Thinly slice the fennel on a mandolin or using a very sharp knife, then toss with the salt in a bowl. Massage the fennel for a minute or so until it begins to soften slightly, then squeeze over the lemon juice.
  • Pour the cooked split peas into a liquidiser, add the extra virgin olive oil and blend to a smooth purée – add a little water if it needs some encouragement. Pour into a clean pan and set aside.
  • To serve, gently reheat the split pea purée, divide between warmed serving bowls, spoon over the spicy aubergine and top with the fennel.