A 20-minute cooking time, gorgeous tastes of Morocco and healthy ingredients – what’s not to love about this Zaalouk recipe? I learnt how to make this on a recent trip to Marrakech and I have been gagging to make it since getting home, and now you can too.

Merchant Gourmet invited me to create a recipe with their Freekeh, and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to get Zaalouk-ing for those lesson notes ;)…

zaalouk-recipe-smoked-eggplantWhat is Zaalouk?

Zaalouk is a warmly spiced Moroccan salad. In that sense, it can be used as a gorgeous side, but here I have served it as a main with toasted pittas and I love it!

Whilst living Life Without Meat, we are constantly increasing our intake of vegetables and it’s nice to find new ways of cooking and enjoying them. Since learning how to make this recipe with Café Clock in Marrakech, it’s become one of my favourite ways to eat eggplant (aubergine) and tomatoes.

While the main veggie ingredients create the creaminess and texture of the dish, the warm spices and fresh herbs bring all the flavours to life.

How does smoked eggplant (aubergine) make a difference?


When we think of smoked foods, we tend to think of common meats and fish – even cheeses are smoked these days. However, the downside of these foods isn’t something to celebrate. Instead, I want to celebrate the unique and unmissable flavours of smoking your favourite veggies whilst living life without meat. The smoked eggplant and fresh tomato create a deliciously rich, smoky flavour which adds depth – perfect for this Zaalouk recipe!

zaalouk-recipe-smoked-eggplantFreekeh: The benefits of grains and pulses

Incorporating grains and pulses into your cooking is a great way to increase the amount of fibre and nutrient-rich vitamins in your diet.

Freekeh (free-kuh) is baby green wheat – a nutritious and flavourful wholegrain similar to bulgar wheat. It has a distinctive smoky flavour and is particularly popular in the Middle East and Northern parts of Africa.

This ‘young’ grain is harvested much earlier, and therefore retains far more nutrients than grains harvested after they fully ripen.

It’s an excellent source of protein for those of us living Life Without Meat, plus it offers a brilliant amount of magnesium and a significant dose of B vitamins. Plus, it’s credited for being a prebiotic which encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria.

zaalouk-recipe-smoked-eggplantInstead of creating a dish to serve with rice, I’ve incorporated Merchant Gourmet’s Freekeh into this Zaalouk recipe. That way, things are kept simple, healthier and substantial without compromising on satisfaction.

Indeed, Freekeh is also a low-glycemic grain which means it’s slowly digested and absorbed, causing a slower and smaller rise in blood sugar – which keeps you fuller for longer.

Due to its smoky flavour, I thought Freekeh would work a dream in this smoked eggplant and tomato Zaalouk recipe I learnt during my time in Marrakech. The smoking of the veggies is really fun and I’m sure it will spark a new enjoyment for cooking in you once you try it.

Much love, G x


20-MINUTE Zaalouk Recipe with Smoked Eggplant, Tomato & Freekeh

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A 20-minute cooking time, gorgeous tastes of Morocco and healthy ingredients – what’s not to love about this Zaalouk recipe?


Vegetables & Grains:

  • 1 whole aubergine
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 large vine tomato
  • Olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • Large handful of fresh coriander, chopped really finely
  • Large handful of fresh parsley, chopped really finely
  • 1 sachet of Merchant Gourmet Freekeh
  • 3 pitta breads

Spice mix:

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 heaped tsp of garlic puree
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced
  • Sea salt and black pepper


  1. Cover a large hob with an oven grill rack or heat-proof rack. Rub olive oil around the whole aubergine, tomato and green chilli and place all three on the rack and cook them directly on a low-medium flame for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally as you go. You’ll notice that the aubergine will start to ooze juice as it smokes and cooks through.
  2. Meanwhile, fry off the onion and garlic in a small drizzle of olive oil and light dash of water, in a pan on medium heat.
  3. Then in a bowl, mix the cumin, paprika, ground coriander, garlic puree, lemon juice and salt and pepper in a small bowl and leave to one side. Keep one half of the ‘empty’ lemon as we will use it in a bit.
  4. By now, the onions and garlic should be nice and soft. Add the tin of plum tomatoes and roughly break them up in the pan as you stir it up. Then stir in the finely chopped coriander and parsley. Throw in that half lemon I told you to save earlier as this will infuse the pan ingredients with a little zest. Then add the spice mix and sachet of Freekeh and stir well to combine all the pan ingredients.
  5. Next, take the aubergine, tomato and chilli off the heat. Peel them all gently (minding your chilli fingers after). Then roughly chop them and stir them into the pan ingredients with a sprinkling of black pepper.
  6. While that simmers for the last few minutes, toast a few pittas for serving. Then you’re ready to dish up.


Allergens: Wheat (gluten), Celery (coriander).

You can make the dish gluten-free by swapping out the Freekeh for a wheat/gluten-free grain and going gluten-free with the pittas. Choose wholemeal pittas for more fiber.

If you don't have a tin of plum tomatoes, you can use 3 fresh vine tomatoes in its place.

To avoid chilli residue on your fingers, feel free to wear gloves when peeling and chopping it.


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