Special Diet

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 large aubergine, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 25 g (1 oz) pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
  • 25 g (1 oz) stoned dates, roughly chopped
  • 25 g (1 oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 75 g (3 oz) easy-cook long-grain rice
  • 300 ml (½ pint) boiling vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the slow cooker if necessary; see the manufacturer's instructions. Lightly oil the base of 2 soufflé dishes, each 350 ml (12 fl oz), and base-line each with a circle of nonstick baking paper, checking first that they will fit in the slow cooker pot.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan, add one-third of the aubergines and fry on both sides until softened and golden. Scoop out of the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the aubergines using 2 more tablespoons of oil.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic, spices, nuts, fruit and rice. Add a little salt and pepper and mix well.

Arrange one-third of the aubergine slices in the base of the 2 dishes, overlapping the slices. Spoon one-quarter of the rice mixture into each dish, add a second layer of aubergine slices, then divide the remaining rice equally between the dishes. Top with the remaining aubergine slices. Pour the stock into the dishes, cover with lightly oiled foil and put in the slow cooker pot.

Pour boiling water into the pot to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 1½–2 hours or until the rice is tender. Lift the dishes out of the slow cooker pot using a tea towel and remove the foil. Loosen the edges of the timbales with a knife, turn out on to plates and peel off the lining paper. Serve hot with a green salad or baked tomatoes.

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