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by Chris Baber, Chef & City Harvest Food Council Member

Serves 6 / 50 minutes

“This Middle Eastern-inspired veggie recipe looks epic served ona platter in the middle of the table. Za’atar is a blend of herbs and spices with a nice zing to it. If you want a touch of indulgence, add some butter to the rice when it’s cooked to take it up a notch and give it a rich, luxurious flavour.”

Extracted from Easy by Chris Baber (Ebury Press, £16.99) Photography by Haarala Hamilton


  • 3 aubergines, cut in half lengthways
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 6 tbsp za’atar, plus 2 tsp to serve
  • 6 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 small bunch of mint leaves, chopped
  • 200g pomegranate seeds
  • Salt and pepper

For the rice: 

  • 600g basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • Butter (optional) 


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.
  2. Use a sharp knife to make a criss-cross pattern on the inside of each aubergine half, about 1cm deep. 
  3. Lay the aubergines on a baking tray. Pour half the lemon juiceover the cut side of the aubergines. Drizzle all over with
    6 tbsp oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over 6 tbsp za’atar. Use your hands to rub the oil and za’atar all over the
    aubergines, getting it into the grooves.
  4. Give the aubergines a final drizzle of oil and roast for about 45 minutes until soft and slightly charred on top.
  5. To make the rice, weigh the rice in a measuring jug or mug. (You will need 2 x the volume of boiling water to rice for
    cooking later, so 1 mug of rice = 2 mugs of water.)
  6. Put the rice into a sieve, rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, then set aside. Boil the kettle.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large saucepan over amedium–high heat and add the cumin seeds. When they sizzle,
    add the onions with a good pinch of salt and fry for 5 minutes until golden.

City Harvest Food Council – From restauranteurs to retailers and farmers to financiers, our Food Council works with us to achieve our overall aims – Rescuing Food, People and Planet – through thought leadership, engaging with decision-makers and more.

About City Harvest

Est. 2014, City Harvest London rescues nutritious surplus food from manufacturers, suppliers, producers and retailers, and delivers, for free, to 375+ London charities feeding those facing food poverty. City Harvest rescues food, people, and planet by preventing food waste, providing life-changing support to communities in every London borough through food, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from waste.

City Harvest believes in the right to food and is passionate that, in this day and age, every child should have access to fresh nutritious food to thrive and not simply survive. City Harvest is a supporter of the Free School Meals campaign. We want to ensure no child goes hungry and we encourage food partners to use our networks to make a huge difference. By delivering to food banks, community centres and school programmes we try to make sure we help fill the gaps all year round.

City Harvest vans equally deliver to homeless shelters, hostels, soup kitchens, mental health charities, projects supporting the elderly and socially isolated, social pantries, community kitchens, refugee hostels, nurseries, family centres and domestic abuse refuges.

City Harvest tripled in size in 2020 to meet the demand of people facing food poverty. Now distributing free food for more than 1.2 million meals a month the need continues to rise as the cost of living tightens its grip.

Please donate to keep our vans rolling. Thank you.