Aubergine Pilaf

Aubergine Pilaf

Aubergine Pilaf

My wife made a wonderful orange/beef/rice dish a couple of days before we had this. The rice was excellent but the beef needed some work. Needless to say I went about interpreting the dish my own way. Plus trying to make it look a bit more elegant at the table.

All this is, is an aubergine container with layers of chicken, spinach and a jewelled rice. Each element needs to cooked separately, but can be done in advance. Either follow the recipe below or use your favourite rice recipe.



  • 3 Aubergines
  • 6 Chicken Thighs
  • 2 Tbsp Ras-El-Hanout
  • 250g Basmati Rice
  • 100g Currants/Dried chopped Apricots
  • 50g Pine Nuts
  • 500g Spinach
  • 4 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Cloves


  1. To make the dish, you will need a 20cm cake tin
  2. Slice the aubergines length ways, 1cm thick. Salt them for 30minutes. Pat dry with kitchen paper and brush with oil. Cook in a frying pan for 2 minutes a side. Set aside once you've done them all.
  3. Heat the oven to 180°c. Rub the ras-el-hanout into the chicken thighs. Cook for 40 minutes. Shred the chicken off the thighs and reserve the liquid from the tray.
  4. Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Add double the volume of water to rice. Skim the fat from the reserved chicken juices and add this to the pan too, along with the spices. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer with the lid on until the water has been absorbed ( about 10 minutes ). Remove the lid and stir in the fruit. Leave for 15 minutes, before stirring the pine nuts into it. Check for seasoning.
  5. Cook the spinach in some oil. Drain as much water from it as possible.
  6. Now we are ready to assemble the dish. The bottom layer is crucial so take your time doing it. Arrange the aubergine around the cake tin first, then place a few pieces in the middle. Make sure there are no gaps. Place all of the shredded chicken in one layer, cover with the spinach and then the rice. Cover the top with more aubergine before folding the slices in.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes at 180°c when ready to serve.


  1. This reminds me little of the Palestinian maqlouba, one of my favourite dishes!
    I’m loving all the spices in this dish and looks incredibly fancy with the aubergine casing.

    Headed to Denver any time soon?

    • Dave Crichton

      Oh Nazneen. I flew over the other day on my way to Vegas. Thought of you. We then had the most amazing arrival straight down the Grand Canyon. If only there was some if your food at the end of it!

  2. This is gorgeous! And, I’m sure, delicious!

  3. What an interesting way to contain the pilaf, I love the look of the whole, the aubergine looks delicious.

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