This is everyone’s favourite in Turkey. I know it is another eggplant (aubergine) dish, but it is simply exquisite. Long, slender purple eggplants are ideal for this recipe, if you can get them — just leave them whole for the pan-frying step, rather than cutting them in half. Here I’ve used the round chubby ones; make sure yours don’t have seeds in them, as these can make the flesh taste bitter. You can also make this dish using boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of the lamb or beef.
SKILL LEVEL EASY
4 eggplants (aubergines)
125 ml (4 oz/½ cup) olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
2 small green capsicums (bell peppers), finely diced
300 g (10½ oz) minced (ground) lamb or beef
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) tomatoes, finely diced, plus 6 slices ripe tomato
2 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated purée)
15 g (½ oz/½ cup) chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
4 garlic cloves, sliced
garlic yoghurt, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
Using a small knife, peel each eggplant lengthways, in striped-pyjama fashion. Cut each one in half and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the eggplants over high heat for 5 minutes, until evenly browned all over, turning them regularly with tongs. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and fry over medium heat, stirring until soft.
Add the capsicum and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the lamb or beef, diced tomato, tomato paste and most of the parsley, reserving some for garnishing. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes. (The meat will continue cooking in the oven, so it doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this stage.)
Place the eggplants on a baking tray, cut side up. Gently open the bellies, then sprinkle the insides with sea salt. Poke the garlic slices into the eggplant flesh. Spoon the meat filling into the belly of each eggplant, then cover each with a slice of tomato.
Pour 125 ml (4 oz/½ cup) hot water over the eggplants, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the necks of the eggplants are tender.
Garnish with the reserved parsley and serve hot, with garlic yoghurt, a green salad and Turkish bread.
Recipe and image from Turkish Meze, Sevtap Yuce (Hardie Grant Books, $39.95, hbk)