Saturday, November 9, 2013

Stuffed Eggplant with Lamb, Cinnamon, and Tamarind

Several nights ago, the women on my street planned a girl's night in with recipes prepared from the cookbook Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (available at Anthropologie). I had the privilege of making the main course, and though I'll admit it was a little time consuming, it was so worth it!

Have you ever ground your own meat? I purchased lamb and ground it coarsely with a Kitchenaid. The difference between purchasing pre-ground meat and grinding it myself was noticeable. The former tends to stick together, like a paste, whereas the latter tends to maintain its crumbly texture, allowing for increased browning. If you do not have a grinder, choose a piece of eat and have your butcher or the person working the meat counter to do it for you. 

I adjusted the recipe somewhat to suit my tastes and yield enough to feed my friends. It's perfect for a cozy fall dinner with a bottle of Shiraz or dry sparkling wine.

serves 4-6 
olive oil
2 eggplants, sliced lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 yellow onion, minced
3/4 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup pine nuts
handful fresh parsley 
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
4 cinnamon sticks 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

plain yogurt, for serving

In a large, glass baking dish, snuggle the eggplants skin-side down. Brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and bake for about 20 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven.

Meanwhile, mix together the spices and divide in half. Cook the onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. After the onions have softened somewhat, about 5-7 minutes, add half of the spice mixture. Cook for another 5 minutes, then turn the heat up to medium-high, push the onions to the side of the skillet, and add the lamb. When it has browned, add the pine nuts, parsley, and tomato paste. Continue cooking until the lamb is cooked through. Season to taste with a pinch of sugar and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining spices with the water, lemon juice, tamarind, cinnamon sticks, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the sugar. Pour this mixture into the bottom of the eggplant roasting pan.

Spoon the lamb mixture over the eggplants, then cover tightly with foil and bake for an hour. Remove from the oven and baste with the sauce, adding more water if needed. Return to the oven to cook for another 30 minutes to an hour.

Serve warm or at room temperature with parsley and plain yogurt.

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