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My cookbook: "Tehran to New York"

On the Norouz day of 2020 spring, I finally published my book. The manuscript is titled: "Tehran to New York: A culinary bridge between Persian and Western cultures" and aims at presenting a unique blend of classic and contemporary Persian recipes, as well as samples of Western-style cuisine, offered in a Persian context. It is important to build bridges between cultures, and not walls. This book aims at constructing a bridge between the Persian and Western cultures. The book may be ordered here:
https://www.amazon.com/Tehran-New-York-culinary-cultures-ebook/dp/B0861H47GS/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=tehran+to+new+york&qid=1584810930&sr=8-1

Khoresh Bademjan; Persian eggplant stew


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

Two very different versions of this stew are cooked in the Persian household. Namely, "Ghoore-Bademjan," and "Gheimeh- Bademjan." The former dish (illustrated above) consists of  a thin aromatic broth, with a golden turmeric color. The latter is a variation of Gheimeh (Persian split pea stew) and is thicker (rather dry) and also colored with tomato paste.  The presented post is based on cooking the first version, Ghoore-Bademjan. Tricks of Gheimeh- Bademjan preparation will be shared at the end.
Ghoore- Bademjan:
10 large pieces of semi-dried tomatoes (You may alternatively use roasted or sautéed tomatoes)
750 gr (~1.65 Pounds) Chinese or Italian eggplant
500 gr (~1.1 Pounds) boneless stewing lamb (or beef), cubed  
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup of caramelized onions (prepared from 3 medium yellow onions)
1/2 TSP turmeric
2 cups of  beef stock (or water)
1 cup of fresh sour grapes (or ½ cup verjuice. Use dry white wine if a sweeter version is preferred)
1/4 TSP cinnamon
Pinch of saffron

Gheimeh- Bademjan:
200 gr (~7.05 Oz or 1 cup) yellow split peas
2 cinnamon sticks
2 TBSP tomato paste
1 TSP turmeric
500 gr (~1.1 Pounds) boneless stewing lamb (or beef), cubed 
2 yellow onions medium, finely chopped
250 gr (~8.8 Oz)  fresh or canned tomatoes
750 gr (~1.65 Pounds) Chinese or Italian eggplant
1 cup of fresh sour grapes (or ½ cup verjuice. Use dry white wine if a sweeter version is preferred)
Salt and white pepper  to season
Pinch of saffron
Season the meat with salt and pepper, brown all sides and set aside. Cut eggplants lengthwise and season with salt, set aside for 30 minutes. The salt should drain some liquid from eggplants. In Iran, the liquid is attributed to eggplant's bitterness! Traditionally, eggplants are peeled off (eggplant could also be left skin on). Pan fry the eggplant halves until soft inside and golden brown outside. Set aside.

In the same pan (where meat was browned), caramelize the onion (in case of using already prepared caramelized onions, heat them up). Add turmeric and keep frying for a minute. Add the stock and meat to a stewing pan (slow cooker is highly recommended) and cook on low heat until the meat is tender and fully cooked.

Arrange the eggplant pieces in the pot. 

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

 Add the grape mixture to the pot. In case you tend no to use fresh sour grapes, add the verjuice (or white wine) to the pot.   

This stew is composed of many delicate components which could be damaged when simmering or while being transferred to the serving dish. My 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 the stew cook for 15-20 minutes. This is neither mandatory nor typical; many people perform the final cooking stage on the stove and then carefully transfer the cooked stew to serving platters.
Sprinkle with saffron and serve with saffron rice.

For the second version (i.e. Gheimeh- Bademjan), repeat  the same procedure as Gheimeh , replacing fried eggplants with the French fries. The final stew should be thick and almost completely dry! (as seen above)

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