06 May 2015

Khoresh Bademjan; Persian eggplant stew

Khoresh (meaning stew in Farsi) Bademjan (Eggplant in Farsi), is the second most important Persian stew following Ghorme sabzi; the king of all Persian dishes. This stew showcases the mild, aromatic, and slightly sour characteristics of Persian cuisine. Unlike Ghorme sabzi which requires Persian dried limes to make, the best source of acid here are sour grapes (or verjuice when out of season) . Sour grapes provide a clean sour flavor without the citrus note typical of dried limes or sour oranges. This acidity is ultimately balanced with the sweetness of caramelized onions and the earthiness of  cinnamon gives the broth the final touch.

There are two very different versions of this stew: Ghoore(meaning sour grape)- Bademjan and Gheymeh- Bademjan.  The first dish consists of a thinner more aromatic and less colorful broth without using tomato paste. The later is a variation of  Gheyme(the split pea stew) and is thicker(almost dry) and also colored with tomato paste.  Here I base the post based on Ghoore-Bademjan and will briefly mention the tricks to make Gheymeh- Bademjan at the end of the post.
Ghoore- Bademjan:
10 large pieces of semi-dried tomatoes
750 gr, Chinese or Italian eggplant
500 gr stewing lamb, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of caramelized onions (from 3 medium onions)
1 TSP turmeric
2 cups of  beef stock (or water)
1 cup of fresh sour grapes (or ½ cup verjuice)
1/4 TSP cinnamon
Pinch of saffron

Gheymeh- Bademjan:
200 gr (1 cup) yellow split peas
2 cinnamon sticks
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 TSP turmeric
500 gr stewing lamb, cubed
 Two white onions medium, finely chopped
250 gr  tomatoes
750 gr, Chinese or Italian eggplant
1 cup of fresh sour grapes (or ½ cup verjuice)
 Salt and white pepper  to season

Pinch of saffron
Season the meat with salt and pepper; brown all sides. Cut eggplants lengthwise and season with salt, set a side 30 minutes. The salt should drain some liquid from eggplants; in Iran, the liquid is believed to be bitter!. Traditionally, eggplants are pilled but  it could also be left skin on. Pan fry eggplant halves  till soft inside and golden brown outside.

In the same pan (as meat), caramelize the onion (if you used prepared caramelized onions, heat them up). Add turmeric and keep frying for a minute. Add the stock and meat to a stewing pan and cook till the meat is tender.

Lay eggplant pieces in the pot. 

Lightly saute sour grapes and sun-dried tomatoes; season with cinnamon.

And add to the pot.

This stew is composed of  many delicate components which could be damaged while the stew is simmering or when it is being transferred to the serving dish. Given this, the optimal way to perform the final simmer is using the oven and the best way to serve is using the very pot it was cooked in. Preheat the oven to high and let cook for 15-20 minutes.

Sprinkle with saffron and serve with saffron rice. 

For Gheymeh- Bademjan, repeat  the same procedure as Gheymeh but instead of fries, use fried eggplants. The final stew should be thick and almost up to a point of being dry!

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