Sabrina Ghayour - have fun when cooking for Christmas

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham

Sabrina Portrait (c) Kris Kirkham - Credit: Archant

Festive food is great, but don’t forget the fun!

Having cooked pretty much every single Christmas dinner since I was a teenager, I can confidently say, I am never any more prepared than the year before. Me, the person who dolls out advice to others about simplifying and prepping ahead, still succumbs to the pressures we all do… lack of time, too much wine

Last year's magical tale of Christmas at the Ghayour house involved just four of us for dinner with the added luxury of having my boyfriend as my sous chef. I thought I had it all sussed. I'd set my heart on cooking goose for the first time and had six bottles of wonderful Nyetimber British fizz, some Yorkshire salami and salmon blinis to kick off the proceeding at 5pm.

Only the fizz took hold and we were dancing by 8pm. Dinner was served at 11pm! Quite a feast of undercooked roast potatoes, raw carrots, slightly charred cabbage, absolutely cremated and completely inedible goose. Thankfully 2kg of perfectly cooked roasted parsnips saved the night.

In all honesty, that was probably the worst Christmas meal ever but certainly the most memorable.

I think with all the glitz and gloss of Christmas we have begun to forget the real joy of it, which is to sit together, laugh, talk and eat and drink way too much, smile when we receive a pair of naff socks and watch terrible TV together until we pass out.

To me this is what it's all about so I'm not going to do what I usually do at Christmas and come up with suggestions to make your meal easier, because somewhere amongst all that chaos, there is joy to be found. Once you are done with the turkey, the beef, the duck, the chicken and the goose and you want something completely different, this simple, roasted aubergine dish with yoghurt is a lazy but delicious dish that ticks all the boxes and doesn't require too much stress.

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So Merry Christmas everyone… my first as a Yorkshire-lass-in-training. It has been a wonderful year getting to know Yorkshire and settling into my home and I know the New Year holds much joy and happiness ahead, too. Whatever you do, eat, drink and be merry… it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Cumin-roasted Aubergine Wedges

with Pumpkin Seeds, Pine Nuts, Pomegranate & Yogurt Dressing

For Middle Eastern people, the aubergine is a diet staple. While we don't really embrace it as a salad item in the West, I think it makes a wonderful salad ingredient, whether it is grilled, fried, preserved or - in this case - roasted. Roasting aubergines in the oven is a healthier way of cooking as it uses less oil than frying and allows you to celebrate the flavour in a concentrated form. I can happily eat this dish on its own, on my own, but it's a great one for sharing as it's a real crowd-pleaser.

Serves 6 -8


3-4 large aubergines, cut into wedges (ensure the skin sides are 5cm wide)

100-150ml olive oil

5 teaspoons cumin seeds

6 tablespoons Greek-style yogurt

4-5 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

75g toasted pine nuts

50g pumpkin seeds

Small packet (about 15g) of fresh coriander, leaves and stems finely chopped

100g pomegranate seeds

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220°C, Gas Mark 7. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

Using a pastry brush, brush the exposed flesh sides of each aubergine wedge with a good amount of olive oil. Arrange the wedges, skin-sides down, on the prepared baking tray, then sprinkle liberally with the cumin seeds, ensuring some seeds land on the exposed flesh of the wedges. Roast for 45-60 minutes or until the aubergine wedges are golden brown, with dark, burnished edges. Arrange the wedges on a large, flat platter and season well with salt and pepper.

Give the yogurt a good seasoning of salt and pepper and dilute it with a little water if it is too thick to drizzle. Drizzle the yogurt over the aubergines, followed by the pomegranate molasses. Sprinkle liberally with the toasted pine nuts and pumpkin seeds, followed by the chopped coriander. Lastly, sprinkle over the pomegranate seeds and serve immediately. If you have leftovers, they are great eaten the next day, served at room temperature.

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