The recipe that I want to share with you today is called Dolmeh Bademjan which translates to Stuffed Eggplant. What do you think of when you see the word dolmeh (dolma) on a menu or a cookbook? The word dolmeh means filled or to be filled in Azeri and Turkish. My ancestors were from Azerbaijan and this is an Azeri recipe (Badimjan Dolmasi) that has been in my family for several generations. Most people are only familiar with the grape leaf dolmeh (Dolmeh Barg) which is the fresh or pickled grape leaves stuffed with savory grains and spices. Besides the grape leaves, dolmeh can be a number of vegetables and some fruits that are stuffed with ingredients such as meat, herbs, legumes and grains. The eggplant of choice for this dish is usually American globe, which is readily available in most supermarkets. When buying this eggplant you need to select small to medium size that is firm and heavy for the size and has dark shiny skin and no blemishes.
Use 4 medium size American globe eggplants
Pick through rice, bulgur and split peas and rinse them under cold water
Cook them in water with spices and salt until tender but firm
Saute the cubed beef with diced onions, turmeric powder, and black pepper then simmer in some water until tender. Reserve 1 cup of the broth for the sauce.
Saute fried onions and tomato paste until aromatic
Add the cooked meat, the remaining broth, rice mixture, and seasoning to the skillet and let it simmer a bit.
Remove the skillet from heat and add diced tomatoes and chopped fresh parsley. Stir to combine.
Cut off a slice from the top of the prepared eggplants and set it aside to be used as cap later
Hollow out the eggplants leaving some flesh attached to the skin. Discard the seeds but reserve some of the white flesh.
Stuff the eggplants with the meat and rice mixture. Cut the reserved eggplant pieces in half and push two half circles sideways inside the stuffed eggplant as caps. Use the tip of a sharp knife to make four 1-inch slits around the belly of each eggplant.
Add any extra stuffing and the reserved white flesh to the sauce and lay the eggplants on their sides, cover and simmer.
Halfway through the cooking turn the eggplants so the top sides are in the sauce. Cover and continue simmering until the eggplants are completely cooked through and fork tender.
- 4 medium firm American Globe eggplants
- 2 tsp each salt and pepper (divided) for rubbing inside the hollowed out eggplants
- FOR THE COOKED BEEF:
- 1 ½ pounds cross rib roast beef or any similar marbled roast beef, cubed into bite size pieces
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 ½ cups cold water
- FOR THE STUFFING:
- ⅓ cup uncooked rice, I used aromatic jasmine rice
- ⅓ cup uncooked bulgur
- ⅓ cup uncooked split peas
- 1 tsp Persian Meat spice or curry powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 2 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 TBSP vegetable oil
- 3 TBSP tomato paste
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 small fresh tomato, diced
- 3 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
- FOR THE SAUCE
- 1 cup beef broth, reserved from cooking the meat
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- ⅓ cup fried onions (reserved)
- ⅛ tsp saffron powder (optional)
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- Pick through the rice, bulgur and split peas carefully for any possible debris. Add them to a fine mesh sieve, rinse under cold water. Add to a small saucepan with ¾ cup cold water, 1 tsp Persian meat spice, ½ tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low, cover the saucepan and cook for about 10 minutes, or until all the water is cooked off and the ingredients are tender but firm. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.
- Add the cubed meat, butter, diced onion, turmeric powder and ground black pepper to a medium stockpot. Saute over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is browned and the natural juices start bubbling.
- Add 2 ½ cups cold water to the meat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the stockpot and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Remove from the heat and set aside. Reserve 1 cup of the broth for the sauce.
- Wash and pat dry the eggplants. Remove and discard the stems. Slice a 1-inch ring off the top of each eggplant and cut it into two equal half circles and set aside. You will be using these pieces as caps to cover the top of the eggplants after stuffing them.
- Hollow out the eggplants, leaving ⅓ inch of the flesh on the skin. Discard the heavily seeded parts but reserve some of the flesh. Rub ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper inside each eggplant. Set aside.
- Peel and thinly slice 2 large onions. In a large skillet fry the onions to golden brown in 4 TBSP vegetable oil. Reserve ⅓ cup of the fried onions for the sauce. Add tomato paste to the rest of the fried onions and saute until aromatic. Add cooked beef, the remaining beef broth (If there is less than ½ cup add enough water to make it ½ cup), ½ tsp kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and the cooked rice mixture. Bring the mixture to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from heat and add diced tomato and chopped parsley; stir to combine all the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Use the same skillet for cooking the eggplants.
- Stuff the belly of the eggplants with the meat mixture. Do not overstuff or the skin will tear. Cap each eggplant with the reserved pieces. Push them in side ways to block the stuffing from falling out during cooking. Use the tip of a sharp knife to cut four 1-inch slits around the belly of each eggplant.
- Make the tomato sauce: Add 2 TBSP tomato paste and ⅓ cup reserved fried onions to the large skillet. Saute for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until aromatic. Add the reserved 1 cup beef broth, saffron powder, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium high.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the reserved eggplant flesh and any extra stuffing mix to the tomato sauce. Lay the stuffed eggplants on their sides in the sauce. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Carefully use two spatulas and roll the eggplants so the top side is in the sauce. Cover and cook for another 20 minutes. Add couple of tablespoons of water if needed.
- Serve with flat bread and Salad Shirazi.