Aubergine ‘meatballs’ (eggless)

5 Mar

Aubergine meatballs by Deena Kakaya
There are many questions that I do not know the answer to and over time, I have learned.
I have cultured the knack of softening a response to questions like, ‘muuuum, are people that hit bad?’, or ‘it is mean to eat a fish’.
My fingers are more nibble with Google referencing to questions like, ‘Can you throw the stones from Saturn’s rings into Saturn?’
The other day, we were in the temple and as my three year old stroked my face and said, ‘I love you mum, thank you for giving me a good day’, the congregation of around a dozen people softened a bit more out of their silent prayer. He carried on with, ‘why does God sit in the sky when so many children’s are hungry’.
I have developed that customary pensive sigh and pause when friends ask me, ‘do you think his behaviour is a road blocker?’
I chant positive affirmations when students ask me during lectures; ‘why don’t I understand this?’
When people text message and ask me ‘I hope you get some rest tonight?’ I reply with thanks. I don’t tell them that I will be up till 2am.
As I type away on this post, my three year old snores next to me and a couple of stray grey hairs shimmer under the lamp. My husband is in Australia and the laundry is waiting along with Lecture preparation. I have Mango and lime water with chia seeds waiting in the fridge for me and I am reflecting on this question I get asked via social media, ‘aww, how are you coping this week? Bet you haven’t been eating properly, not fun cooking for one is it?’

Well. This is a question that I can respond to with a picture-no words needed. I eat whilst my husband is away, it is true. He eats whilst he is away too. He doesn’t sob over soggy toast and neither do I. Its great isn’t it? Though there are shortcuts and easier meals involved because I have to do the cleaning up all by my 5ft 1 inch self. There are sandwiches involved but not cold and limp ones. There are vegetarian meatballs involved and they are full of gusto. There is nothing whimpering or diminishing about them. They are healthy, mighty and juicy. They are easy and peasy. They need time though. The knack with these Aubergine vegetarian meatballs is that the aubergines must be cooked on a low flame for a long time until they are golden and soft. They won’t be golden if you add the salt and garlic too early; they’ll just be wet and icky. The meatballs are sweet but remember not to add the spices too early otherwise they will burn and it will all taste bitter. Don’t forget the lemon juice, it really helps. I have accompanied my meatballs with a tomato and Harissa sauce. It’s a gobful this meal.

Ingredients to serve 4
2 tbsp. rapeseed oil
2 large aubergines cut into small cubes (approximately 2cm cubes)
3 fat cloves of garlic
1 tsp. dried chilli flakes
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
Salt to taste
A generous pinch of black pepper
The juice of one lemon
6-7 tbsp. breadcrumbs
1. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add the aubergines. Cook them on a low flame until they are soft enough to pierce and golden brown on the outside. It took me roughly 40 minutes to get them this way.
2. Just before the aubergines are cooked add the salt, garlic, coriander and cumin pastes with the paprika and sauté for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the aubergines to cool to room temperature.
3. Put the aubergines in a food processor and add the black pepper and lemon juice and blitz them until they are almost smooth. Add the breadcrumbs and pulse until it looks like patty mixture.
4. You should be able to form equal shaped meatballs now. If the mixture is too wet add more breadcrumbs. If it is a bit dry, add a splash of olive oil.
5. Put the meatballs on some baking paper and leave them in the fridge for an hour or so, to firm up.
6. When you are ready to cook the meatballs, add a splash of oil to a non-stick pan and add the meatballs on a low flame. Cook them until they are golden brown and lightly crisp on each side.

19 Responses to “Aubergine ‘meatballs’ (eggless)”

  1. thespicyrd March 5, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

    These look divine! And I love the intro to your post 🙂 Reminds me of when my kids were little, and my husband traveled a lot. It’s not easy, but you make it work 🙂 Hope you are well! xoxo

    • Deena Kakaya March 5, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

      Thank you for your lovely, lovely words. Your comments always make me smile. I am well and hope that you are too x

  2. Katie @ Whole Nourishment March 5, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    I like that you say “there are vegetarian meatballs involved and they are full of gust”….making the most of your situation! I love the aubergine in these meatballs, they look incredibly tasty.

    • Deena Kakaya March 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      Thanks Katie! To be honest I’m surprised how well they taste- moist but not wet, sweet and juicy. X

  3. Elaine @ foodbod March 5, 2015 at 7:48 pm #


  4. coconutcraze March 5, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    I always wonder if I could make a vegetable substitute while the rest of the family bite into juicy meatballs. Here you have opened the door for me to have some spicy revenge. I love the presentation!

  5. eastofedencook March 5, 2015 at 11:09 pm #

    My family adores eggplant! I can’t wait to make this fabulous “meatless” recipe!

  6. kellie anderson March 6, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    These look *really* lovely, Deena. With this kind of healthy, quick and flavour-packed recipe I know you are doing more than okay in OH’s absence. And your boy is so curious and at the same time wise. He is a lucky boy to have you. 🙂

    • Deena Kakaya March 24, 2015 at 9:38 am #

      I read your comment a lot of times, you are so generous with loveliness Kellie. Thank you xx

  7. Kelsey March 7, 2015 at 1:51 am #

    its hard to find meatballs without eggs so this is a well appreciated recipe!

    • Deena Kakaya March 12, 2015 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks Kelsey! Have to agree with you. These are really moist and juicy, I hope you enjoy them x

  8. Keep Calm and Fanny On March 24, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    I love all things Aubergine, so will try these. Thanks for your story, as ever it was a thoughtful post… Sometimes there are no answers, only questions.

    • Deena Kakaya March 24, 2015 at 9:34 am #

      Thank you, I’m so glad that there was none of that bitterness in them, a little sweetness instead x

  9. Lisa March 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    I love eggplant. Such a creative way to serve it. Just the other day a friend was asking for tips regarding eggplant. She loves it, but her husband can’t stand it. A shame. Maybe he would like this one. His complaint is it is too soggy, but not with proper preparation I noted. Take care and do get some rest when you can. x

    • Deena Kakaya March 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

      Thank you Lisa, so lovely of you. We have a similar conundrum in our home; husband is anti-aubergine and I enjoy them but he certainly ate these x

  10. surleen7 March 26, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    these look so delish! can’t wait to try them:) please check out my vegetarian recipes at thanks so much xoxo

  11. flyncook May 21, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    They look delicious! I couldn’t see any “meat” in the recipe. Can we call them “veg” balls instead?



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