Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Khoresh-e bademjan: Iranian eggplant stew
You know, young people can be funny about food. Sometimes you win with them; sometimes you lose. When you're a bit of a magpie about cooking like me, you learn to take your chances and try not to take any resistance to heart. I guess I was expecting a little turbulence from the Young Man on this tangy Iranian stew/casserole on account of it being chock-full of lovely pan-fried eggplants.
But it must have been my lucky day, as he wolfed this right down and put in orders to get his packed lunch the next day in a Thermos so it would be nice and hot! That's always a thumbs-up in our house.
If you make this recipe to specification, you'll need 3 large onions. I made it on the spur of the moment, and could only spare 2 out of my week's supply. That's why there's none on the topping in the photo.
Although you can't tell from the photo, this khoresh is meat based. The recipe calls for the meat to be cut in 1 cm cubes. This is much smaller than I generally make it, but it does have the added benefit of speeding the cooking time considerably. As always, I did it in my pressure cooker, and 10 minutes under pressure was fine for beef. You may want to cook the eggplants until they are lusciously soft, as they won't cook much more in the oven. Actually, I reckon it might not even be necessary to put this in the oven at all. A few more minutes in the pressure cooker and you'd probably be laughing.
If you are new to Iranian cooking, this would be an easy entry. The flavour is mild, with a nice citrus-y tang (which would probably be more pronounced if I had access to sour unripe grapes).
If you can, do seek out Iranian lime juice as it has a totally different flavour to the limes we get in the West (and the Mexican ones we get in Japan).
The recipe calls for a lot of oil for frying, but I didn't use nearly as much as specified and all was well.
Next time, I think I would give the stew a final blast on high heat to reduce the sauce a little before putting it in the oven. But perhaps you are meant to have a great deal of sauce in this khoresh. Certainly, it has a lovely flavour. The YM gave this 5 stars, so you know it's another fine treat from Najmieh khanom's New Food of Life.
Koresh-e bademjan: Iranian eggplant stew
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 kg lamb shanks or chicken legs with skin removed, cut up
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 4 tbsp hot water
2 cups fresh squeezed tomato juice
1 cup unripe grapes (ghureh)
4 tbsp lime juice [S: Iranian, if possible; the flavour is quite different]
3 medium of 9 slim eggplants [S: I used 5 Japanese eggplants, but more would have been better]
1 tsp advieh (Persian spice mix)
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large tomato, peeled and left whole
2 tbsp oil
1 In a non-stick Dutch oven, brown the onions and garlic with meat or chicken in 3 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, and saffron water.
2 Add 2 cups water for meat and no water for chicken, tomato juice, unripe grapes, and lime juice. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 1/2 hours for meat or 30 minutes for chicken [S: or 10 min under pressure if using a pressure cooker].
3 Peel eggplants and cut lengthwise in quarters if they are large. Place in a colander, sprinkle both sides with water and 2 tbsp salt, and set aside for 2o minutes to remove the bitter taste. Rinse and pat dry.
4 Brown the eggplant on all sides in a non-stick skillet in 3 tbsp oil [S: I recommend you fry them until quite tender]; set aside.
5 Add advieh to the meat or chicken; mix well and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
6 For the garnish, brown the onion and tomato in a non-stick skillet in 2 tbsp oil; set aside.
7 Preheat the oven to 200 C. Transfer the chicken or meat and sauce into a deep ovenproof casserole; arrange the eggplant, then onion and tomato, on the top. Cover and bake for 30 min, then remove cover and bake another 15 minutes uncovered or until the eggplant is tender.
8 Serve with chelo (saffron-steamed rice).