November 04, 2006
Stuffed Baby Eggplant
This is a easy yet luxurious dish my Egyptian friend introduced me to. She brings this or stuffed peppers for lunch and has got me hooked on it. The stuffed peppers has rice also in it, but this is traditionally made with only ground lamb. Unlike typical Arab recipes, the ones she brings is a little spicy (she can outeat any chili afficianado) and so my recipe also called for more spice.
I also found a similar recipe in the Tyler's Cookbook I was discussing earlier. Again, since I had already tasted the authentic version, I was able to compare the recipes. The only change I made is to add paprika and Allspice powder. His version was quite accurate. Allspice berries are small dark brown hard berries which taste like a mix of all the spices together.. it has a sweetness, a sharpness and a woodsy taste too. I think the flavors would be fine without it as there is garlic, tomatoes and onions all merging together, but it balances the taste of meat. Substitute with a pinch of garam masala to add an Indian flavor to this old Arab favorite. The filling can be made with meat or without meat. Further stuffing options are listed below.
Cooking time:20 mins, Baking time-25 minutes.
You will need:
Ground Meat (lamb/beef/turkey/chicken)-1/4 lb
Onions -1 small one chopped
Garlic -3 cloves minced
Ground Allspice- ½ tsp
Green chilies-2 chopped finely
Tomatoes -2 peeled, seeded, diced
Lemon juice -1 tsp
Fresh Parsley- 1 cup chopped
Fresh Mint-1 tbsp chopped
Lemon- 1 sliced paper thin.
Salt to taste
Olive oil-3 tbsp
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the eggplant into two vertical halves. Heat 1-2 tbsp oil in a non stick pan and fry the eggplant on all sides for a minute or two and remove onto paper towels. The skin has to just get seared, and the insides do not have to get cooked. After it slightly cools, scoop out the inner flesh from eggplants with a spoon, talking care not to go too much close to the skin. An even layer of the eggplant should be retained inside each shell. Cut the scooped flesh into chunks and reserve. The eggplant is still uncooked so will not scoop out easily. Do it carefully.
2. Sprinkle inside of eggplant shells evenly with salt. Place upside down on paper towels; let stand 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat the pan again with the remaining oil. Cook garlic and onion over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat and stir till it gets broken up evenly, about 5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes, green chilies reserved eggplant flesh, paprika, pepper, and allspice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until eggplant is just tender, about another 5-10 minutes. Season the filling mix with salt and stir in parsley and lemon juice. Remove from heat and let it cool down.
4. Pat eggplant shells dry with paper towels. Spoon about 1 tbsp of the eggplant mixture loosely into shells. Spray a large shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Place the eggplant, cut side up, into the baking dish in one layer. Top each eggplant with the thinly sliced lemon. Drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil on each eggplant. Bake for about 25-35 minutes until eggplant is fully tender. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, sprinkle parsley and serve.
Other Possible Stuffings:
a. Above filling mixed with cooked rice and toasted pine nuts.
b. Cottage cheese(paneer)sauted as above instead of meat.
c. Just the eggplant-tomato mix itself, omitting the meat.
d. Mushrooms cooked with tomatoes and topped with grated cheese.
Stuffed Eggplant, Eggplant, Food Blog, Parsley, Arab