Sunday, September 14, 2014


My favourite cuisines other than Gujarati are - in no particular order - French, Arabic (from Levantine countries), Afghani, Persian, Mexican, Greek, Italian, and Japanese. I love cuisines that effortlessly combine ingredients to create deep complex flavours. Especially cuisines that have a variety of vegetarian foods, since I am mostly vegetarian and seldom cook meat at home.

This delicious sweet and tangy Iraqi lamb stew is not vegetarian, but it contains a small enough bit of meat to remain light on the body. It's also very versatile - this time I made it with lamb because I needed to use up some leftover ground lamb but I usually make it vegetarian. I find that the split yellow peas add enough meatiness to make a substantial stew - it makes a great meal with bread or rice and of course, a small crisp salad. 

Iraqi Aubergine and Lamb Stew
makes: 4 - 6 servings

- 1 large aubergine, cubed
- 2-1/2 tbsp. salt
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 med. zucchini, cubed
- 1 potato, cubed
- 2 carrots, cubed
- 1 bulb fennel, cubed
- 1/3 lb. ground lamb
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
- 1/2 cup dried yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 8 - 12 hours
- 4 dried red chillies
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp. chilli flakes or powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves 
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a colander, mix 2 tbsp. salt into the aubergine cubes. Let the aubergine sit for about 30 minutes until the bitter juices run out. Squeeze the cubes to remove any water that didn't drain out, and pat dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C. Mix the aubergine cubes with 2 tbsp. olive oil and bake for 15 - 20 min. or until tender.
  3. While the aubergine is baking, heat the remaining 2 tbsp. of the olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the dried chillies, onion, and garlic and sauté till the onion is translucent.
  4. Add the lamb and cook for a few min. till the lamb is evenly browned, breaking up large chunks with a spoon. Add the split peas, all the vegetables (except the aubergine, which is still baking!) and the spices and stir to mix well. Turn the heat to high and add 2 cups water. Cook on high for 5 min. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the baked aubergine, pomegranate molasses, and remaining 1/2 tbsp. salt and cook till the vegetables are done, about 20 - 30 min., stirring occasionally.
  5. Turn the heat off and adjust salt if needed. Serve with any Arabic bread or rice.

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