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Chipotle grilled aubergine agridulce with whipped ricotta 

Chef Helen Graham, of Middle Eastern London restaurant Bubala, presents fresh ideas for a vibrant summery spread of exciting dishes bursting with bright colours and bold flavours

Here, the aubergine is almost pickled, so it needs to be made at least two days in advance and will keep for a few weeks in the fridge in its liquid. The ricotta tempers the spicy, sharp agridulce perfectly. It is lovely as a starter, with flatbreads to mop up the sauce.

Developing salads is probably my favourite thing to do because, for me, it is all about building layers of contrasts to create something delicious, At Bubala, we believe that any one item from our menu could be eaten in isolation and convey what we are about; playfulness, bold flavours and an element of surprise. Every component needs to make a statement, with punchy ingredients like pomegranate molasses and tamarind. This time of year is perfect to experiment with exciting dressings, to reawaken the palate and evoke the adventure of summer. Here, I am taking you on a journey from Yemen, through Japan, to Israel and Sri Lanka - the next best thing to jumping on a plane. 

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Serves 6

For the agridulce

1 litre white wine vinegar
100g sweet paprika
1.5 bulbs garlic, cloves, crushed and peeled
50g caster sugar
20g chipotle chilli flakes, or regular chilli flakes

For the aubergines

2 Aubergines
1tbsp Maldon flaked sea salt
60ml vegetable oil
1 bunch coriander, roughly chopped

For the ricotta

500g ricotta
100ml double cream
1 lemon, zest
  1. Methods

    Step 1

    For the agridulce, boil 1.5 litres water and the 1 litre white wine vinegar in a large pot. Add the rest of the agridulce ingredients with 40g salt, heat for a further few minutes, turn off and leave to cool.

    Step 2

    Slice the aubergines into 5mm-thick discs, lay on a baking tray and sprinkle with the flaked sea salt. Leave for 15 minutes before washing the salt off and patting dry with a paper towel.

    Step 3

    Toss the aubergine slices in vegetable oil. Heat a griddle pan (or barbecue) and, working in batches, griddle for 5-8 minutes on each side, until charred, soft and cooked through. (Ensure an extractor fan is on as it can get smoky.) Transfer to a plate to cool.

    Step 4

    Layer the slices in a Tupperware box, sprinkling coriander in between each one, retaining some to serve. Cover with marinating liquid. Leave in the fridge for at least 2 days before serving.

    Step 5

    For the whipped ricotta, beat together the ricotta, cream and lemon zest, with ¼tbsp each of ground black pepper and salt.

    Step 6

    To serve, remove the slices of aubergine from the liquid and arrange on a plate on top of the ricotta, sprinkled with a little coriander and drizzled with some of the agridulce marinade.