Meera Sodha's vegan recipe for nam jim aubergine salad with wild rice

Up and down the length and breadth of Thailand’s tables, you’ll find dipping sauces of various kinds sitting quietly yet potently to add fire and life to your meal. Nam jim is a particular favourite of mine, and, although there are many variations, loosely speaking it is always a fabulously punchy concoction usually made with chillies, sugar, garlic, lime and a salty element (such as fish sauce or soy). Here, I’ve generously doused some roast aubergines in the sauce, then tossed them with wild rice and fresh herbs to add some fire and life to your table.

Nam jim aubergine salad with wild rice

Prep 15 min
Cook 55 min
Serves 4 as a main

4 medium aubergines (about 1.2kg)
Rapeseed oil
300g mixed wild rice

For the nam jim dressing
25g coriander, leaves picked, stalks finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 bird’s eye chillies
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
3 tbsp orange juice (from 1 orange)
20g Thai basil leaves, shredded
20g mint, leaves shredded

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Cut the aubergines into 2cm x 4cm lozenges, put in a large bowl, pour over four tablespoons of oil and toss to coat. Arrange the aubergines in a single layer across two oven trays (keep the bowl for later) and bake for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through.

In the meantime, cook the rice according to the packet instructions, adding a teaspoon and a half of salt to the cooking water, then drain, return to the pot and cover with a clean towel to steam for 10 minutes.

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To make the dressing, put the coriander stalks, garlic, chillies and three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt into a mortar and bash until smooth. Tip into the large bowl from earlier, and add the sugar, soy, and lime and orange juices. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then add the cooked aubergines, submerge in the liquid and set aside for a few minutes.

To make up the salad, put the rice in a serving bowl, air-lift the aubergines into the rice, leaving as much of the dressing behind as possible. Add the basil, mint and coriander leaves to the dressing bowl, gently toss to mix, then drizzle over the top of the aubergines. Taste, check you are happy with the seasoning and serve.


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