Khorak Bademjoon — Eggplant Stew
A hearty, velvety, spiced vegetarian stew
Though not traditionally served during a Nowruz feast, this dish will be a welcome newcomer on the table, particularly for those who prefer vegan or vegetarian main dishes.
Use smaller Italian eggplants, as they’ll have fewer seeds than the larger ones. Roasting the eggplant before it's sautéed ensures a velvety result. The addition of chickpeas make this a wonderful stand-alone protein-rich dish, too.
*Rob-e-anar (pomegranate molasses) is available at Persian or Middle Eastern grocery stores or in the international section of larger grocery stores. If you are unable to find it, you can substitute it here with 1 tablespoon of honey mixed with 1 tablespoon of lime juice.
**Limu omani (dried Persian lime) can be found at Persian or Middle Eastern grocery stores.
This recipe is part of a full Nowruz feast — find the complete menu here.
- 9 tbsp grapeseed oil, divided (or other neutral oil with a high smoke point)
- 4-6 Italian eggplants (approximately 2 lb), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise into rings (approximately 2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp hot smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tbsp rob-e-anar (pomegranate molasses)*
- 1 whole limu omani (dried Persian lime)**, optional
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
- 2 tbsp julienned fresh mint leaves
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. In a large bowl, drizzle 6 tablespoons of oil onto the eggplant and toss well to coat. Working in two batches, transfer half of eggplant to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Roast for 15 minutes on the lowest rack of the oven, stirring gently with a spatula halfway through. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining eggplant. Set eggplant aside.
Meanwhile, place a 4- to 6-quart heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add the shallots and sauté for 3-5 minutes until they are translucent, then add the garlic. Sauté for another two minutes until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Add the turmeric, cumin, paprika, and black pepper and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the tomato sauce and salt, stir to combine, then add the eggplant, water, rob-e-anar and limu omani. Mix well to combine and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Then, lower to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through — if the liquid at the bottom appears to be evaporating too fast, add a tablespoon or two of water. Add the chickpeas, cover again, and simmer for another 10-12 minutes. Taste for salt and add if needed. Serve, garnishing with the julienned mint.
Yield: Makes 4 servings