Avocado Tomato Tian, Tempura Peppers, Sweet Chilli, Basil Coriander Sauce

17 Mar

The last of the hass avocados are being harvested at the moment where we walk the dog. They are stored in piles of crates ready for market. The farmers are cutting back the trees and making bonfires out of the mountains of branches.

This was the first thing we ate when we arrived in Cape Town. Just off the plane and straight to lunch at Harbour House at The Waterfront. The shape of things to come. Lunch and dinner booked every day for three weeks, well nearly. In the end I worked it out as 29 meals out in 19 days. This does not include breakfasts or the meals we had at the Game Reserve. Heaven or hell? You decide…….

Their version was with tempura prawns, I changed it to red peppers because you can cut them in a similar shape to prawns (they have that natural curl) and they look sort of pink in the tempura.

The original recipe uses fresh basil to infuse an olive oil and a mayonnaise as two of the three sauces that are used to dress the plate. I didn’t have any fresh basil so I used some basil pesto and lots of fresh coriander to increase the vibrancy of the green. I blended these together in the oil and mayonnaise with a stick blender.

Basil and coriander actually work really well together. I was a bit worried about the Italian/Indian (con) fusion of flavours. But hey it tastes good.

Avocado Tomato Tian, Tempura Peppers, Sweet Chilli, Basil Coriander Sauce

Serves 2, Vegetarian (Vegan without the mayo). Adapted from the Harbour House recipe

Prep time: 40 mins Cooking Time: 5 mins

  • 1 medium red pepper, cut in 1 cm slices
  • 2 small avocados, mashed with lemon juice
  • 2 small tomatoes, peeled, deseeded & chopped
  • 1 small aubergine, cut into 1 cm rounds
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • sweet chilli sauce, see my recipe here if you want to make your own
  • fresh basil leaves (or I used basil pesto and fresh coriander), save some for garnish
  • 1 heaped tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil
  • 2 or 3 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch, maizena)
  • 100 gr flour (I used spelt flour)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200 ml iced fizzy water (or beer)
  • vegetable oil for deep/frying

Drizzle the aubergine slices with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, minced garlic and chilli flakes. Roast in a 200 c oven for about 30 minutes until softened. You won’t need the whole aubergine for this dish but you can keep the rest for salads, wraps or whatever.

Put the pepper strips on a plate and sieve over the cornflour until the peppers are coated on all sides.

Mash the avocados with a big squeeze of lemon and season with salt & black pepper, taste.

Cut a cross in the base of each tomato. Plunge them into a bowl of boiling water and leave for about 30 seconds. Drain then refresh them in a bowl of iced water for another 30 seconds. Then you can peel them easily.

Half or quarter the tomatoes and remove all of the seeds. Chop or dice the tomato flesh, season with salt & pepper and set aside.

Add one heaped tablespoon of mayonnaise into to a measuring jug with one teaspoon of basil pesto and/or a big handful of basil/coriander leaves for a greener colour. Add a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper. Blend with a stick blender adding a splash of water to loosen it if necessary. Taste.

Ina separate measuring jug add another teaspoon of pesto and/or a big handful of basil or coriander leaves. Drizzle over a good glug of olive oil and blend. Add more oil until you get a good drizzling consistency. Season.

Sieve the flour, baking powder & salt into a large bowl. Whisk in the ice-cold water/beer until just combined. Do not over whisk.

Heat the oil to about 180 c in a wok. Add the peppers (in two or 3 batches) to the batter and coat completely. When the oil is hot, carefully lower the first batch of peppers into the wok. When the peppers have come to the surface, if you like you can sprinkle over some more batter from a height with your fingers. This gives it an extra, light crispy coating. Use chopsticks or a metal slotted spoon to move the peppers onto the bits of batter so it sticks  to the peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Drain in a sieve over kitchen paper and keep warm while you cook the rest.

Using a mould or chef’s ring on your serving plate, place two slices of aubergine into the base. Top with with a layer of the diced tomatoes then add a layer of the mashed avocado. Smooth the top and press down lightly.

Drizzle the mayonnaise, sweet chilli sauce and basil oil around the plate. Place the tempura peppers evenly around the tower/tian. Then slowly lift of the ring and serve garnished with some fresh basil or coriander leaves and a drizzle of the basil oil. Some toasted ciabatta slices would be good with this too.

Now try to get someone else to clean up the mess in the kitchen!!

For more pictures of our lunch at Harbour House check out  this post.

Have a great weekend…

10 Responses to “Avocado Tomato Tian, Tempura Peppers, Sweet Chilli, Basil Coriander Sauce”

  1. Three Well Beings March 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    At least you can fully justify all those wonderful meals–Research! I love vegetable tempura, and this is the most elegant dish I’ve seen in a long time. Beautiful! The flavor combination using so many chili variants is very appealing. I love spicy! Your trip was a fantastic culinary adventure, wasn’t it! Debra

  2. dassana March 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    this is a burst of flavors and tastes. amazing natalie…

  3. Chica Andaluza March 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    That was a lot of meals but we thank you for it! Amazing recipe and it looks so beautiful. Funnily enough I am just about to head into the kitchen to make some more (yes, yet more, I have made loads since you posted the recipe) of your sweet chilli sauce!

  4. Tony Ward March 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    Ah….fond memories of your many, many forays into the culinary delights of Cape Town.Was great being a small part of it guapa.
    I had the tian with prawns today @ H.H. (suprise, suprise ) . Next time I’ll get the ‘potato chips’ recipie from Garth. (hint if you’re reading this Garth.)
    Lovely adeptation Natalie, did the washerup substitute the Peroni for a San Miguel ? xx

  5. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide March 18, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    I love the gravity-defying shrimp! What great photos and a great recipe. I miss living in SoCal where avocados were plentiful, good and cheap.

  6. Alli March 18, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    My goodness, I can’t believe you ate out 29 times! Love this combination, I made a veg stack for a vegan option at a wedding, I think t would have been perfect with some mashed avo too.

  7. leaf (the indolent cook) March 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    This looks absolutely divine. Great re-enaction!

  8. ceciliag March 19, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    This is absolutely stunning but i have to ask, when you were in cape town, how did you eat all that food? your stomach must have been hurting.. c

  9. Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen March 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    I’ve been on a huge avocado kick lately…..thanks for keeping it going! The basil-coriander combo sounds so interseting, I can’t wait to try it!

  10. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise March 21, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    Wow! 29 times!
    I love the use of the red peppers and their natural curve here 🙂

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