stuffed eggplant with lamb ‘n pine nuts #jerusalem. I like to call my eggplants aubergines, but when in Rome… potatoes, potatoes. This recipe, from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s latest cookbook (Jerusalem: A Cookbook), is one of the few savoury recipes which I pretty much followed to-the-t as of late.
I have already told you that during my London years I was a huge fan of Ottolenghi (as in the restaurant), deeply missed for quick (and excellent) bites nowadays in Mexico, but his latest cookbook came early this Christmas courtesy of a speedy Amazon.
And wow. A serious wow.
This book was raved about since its inception, and it sure did not disappoint (at all). Photography, check (proof that you do eat with your eyes first and foremost), but then there are the recipes (the most important thing right?)… well, triple wow.
Without making a complete oxymoron out of this sentence (which I will anyways), Ottolenghi and Tamimi make incredibly complex recipes and tastes simple. I am talking about easy cooking made for the home (no Thomas Keller extreme precision)(of which I have also become a pretty huge fan of as of late), accompanied by interesting anecdotes on the regional cuisine.
This recipe stood out for me because well, I love (seriously love) both lamb and aubergines (both of which are in abundance throughout the book). I no longer cook with olive oil (health reasons and all), so I substituted it with grapeseed oil. I also increased the tamarind paste slightly and made a deliciously fresh agua de tamarindo (tamarind water) to go with the dish.
What can I say other than the result was a deliciously hearty dish with true Turkish flavour. Expectations (truly) met.
So if you are still in search of Christmas presents and do not yet own this gem of a book, I highly suggest it.
Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb & Pine Nuts
(loosely adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi)
4 medium eggplants (about 1.2 kg / 2 1/2 lb), halved lengthwise
90 mL (6 TBS) grapeseed oil (or if you prefer, olive oil)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 TBS sweet paprika
1 TBS ground cinnamon
2 medium onions (340 g /12 oz in total), finely chopped
500 g (1 lb) ground lamb
50 g (7 TBS) pine nuts
20 g (2/3 oz) flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp tomato paste
3 tsp superfine sugar
150 mL (2/3 cup) water
1 1/2 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp tamarind paste
4 cinnamon sticks
salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Place the eggplant halves, skin down, on a roasting pan. Brush with grapeseed oil (or olive oil) and season with plenty of salt and black pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or so, until tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.
While the eggplants are in the oven, heat up about 2 TBS of grapeseed (or olive) oil in a frying pan. Mix the cumin, paprika and cinnamon and add half to the pan along with the onions. Stirring constantly, fry for about 5-8 minutes over medium heat. Add the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato paste, 1 tsp of the sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the lamb is cooked (about 8 minutes).
Mix together thoroughly the remaining spice mix with the water, lemon juice, tamarind, remaining 2 tsp of sugar, the cinnamon sticks and 1/2 tsp salt.
Decrease the oven temperature to 195°C (375°F). Pour the spice mix into the botton of the roasting pan with the eggplants and spoon the lamb on top of each eggplant. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 1 1/2 hours (eggplants will be completely soft). Two to three times throughout cooking, remove the foil and baste the eggplants with the sauce (feel free to add more water if it dries out)(I sure did).
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 4 (pretty generously)