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Khoresh Bademjan or Bademjoon is a Persian Eggplant Stew with meltingly soft eggplants in a thick, tomato based sauce with pieces of meat to make it heartier.
Yellow split peas are also sometimes added, and the dish is known as Gheymeh Bademjan, where minced meat is used instead of chunks of meat. Our recipe today is with just eggplants and meat.
In Farsi (Persian language):
- khoresh = stew
- bademjan – eggplants
This is a reader requested recipe, which I’m very happy to publish, as it’s one of my favourite eggplant dishes, and I love nothing better than to have it with a plate of steamed rice; which is how it’s almost always served. It is a popular party dish in Persian gatherings, and so unsurprisingly, is a favourite with my Persian clients.
And over the next few months, before the weather warms up too much, here in the northern hemisphere, look out for a few more Persian stews. I’ve had a few grumbles from readers about the lack of them! One of my favourites, Khoresh Rivas (Persian Rhubarb Stew) is coming up real soon, now that forced rhubarb is everywhere here in the UK. It’s the inspiration for this beautiful Lamb Shank and Rhubarb Tagine:
Tart flavours in Persian Cuisine
As with many Persian khoresh, or stews, Khoresh Bademjan has an underlying tart or sour flavour. This is achieved by adding any of the following:
- sour grapes (ghooreh), which are young unripe grapes
- sour grape juice (abghooreh)
- dried limes (limoo amani, click to read more), or failing all that
- plain and simple fresh lemon juice
I tend to go with limoo amani, finishing off with a quick squeeze of lemon juice, because I love that touch of bitter that they lend to the stew. If you have friends growing grapes, just ask them for a handful of the young unripe ones to make your khoresh!
Khoresh Bademjan Recipe
As far as the meat itself is concerned, while lamb tends to be the preferred Middle Eastern meat, you can please yourself: lamb or beef. Be sure to cut up your beef or lamb into bite size pieces, and, as a change, you could even go with meatballs, which in my experience, makes it very attractive to kids!
The recipe itself is pretty straightforward, but it takes just a little bit of effort and time, as we salt and then grill the eggplants first. Traditionally, the eggplants are fried, more often than not, but eggplants being the sponges that they are, soak up far too much oil for my comfort. So the best thing to do is to grill (broil) them or bake them in the oven first. We shall be grilling (broiling) them.
What kind of eggplants should you use?
That’s completely up to you: large, medium, small, round – it depends on what you like and what you can get. For khoresh bademjan, I use medium eggplants, which slice up to about 5-6 pieces each; perfect for 4 – 6 people.
If you fancy a shortcut, you could buy ready grilled slices of eggplants, as the ones here. Or, you could completely skip this process and add the eggplants fresh. The eggplants will be lighter on the flavour, but the stew will be just as delicious. Just remember to cook the eggplants longer, for 30 minutes, to get them to be meltingly soft.
These days, eggplants don’t really need to be salted anymore but I find that the extra step helps to season them and deepen the flavour. Having said that, many of the small eggplants here tend to be on the bitter side, so they most certainly need salting for a good 30 minutes.
A quick look at some other ingredients in Khoresh Bademjan
Limoo Amani (Dried Persian Limes)
Click here to read more. Dried limes, whether brown or black are a very popular ingredient throughout the Middle East and have various names, depending on where you are or where the limes are from. To use them, you simply crack them with the back of a knife to release the flavour, and add them to stews as they are.
Substitute: lemon juice, sumac, sour grapes, sour grape juice
Click here to read more, learn how to make it, and also for my YouTube video.
When you only soak the saffron in water, you are not utilising everything that this potent ingredient has to offer. You get the aroma, the flavour and the colour but the very substance of the saffron, to me, remains elusive when you leave it whole. So how do we get to the inner beauty and magic of saffron and how do we make liquid saffron?
Easy, we crush those little guys in a pestle and mortar first, with just a tiny pinch of salt or sugar to aid the grinding, then we soak it in water.
Vegetarian Khoresh Bademjan
Is pretty easy to do. Half the time, when I’m cooking this for clients, I am asked to do one of each dish, meat version, and vegetarian version.
To make a vegetarian khoresh bademjan, just omit the meat, and add yellow split peas instead, which are traditional in this recipe, as mentioned above. Use about 1 cup of yellow split peas, and follow the recipe below, adding the peas when you are meant to add the meat. Cook the peas for 30 minutes, then add the eggplants and finish up.
Yellow split peas do not need soaking.
That’s it, I hope you enjoy the recipe. If you are a fan of eggplants, you sure will!
More Persian Recipes on LinsFood
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Khoresh Bademjan (Persian Eggplant Stew, خورش بادمجان)
- 3 eggplants aubergines
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 500 g (1.1lb) beef or lamb, in bite size pieces
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 small clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 Tbsp concentrated tomato paste
- 200 g (7oz) canned chopped tomatoes
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- 1 Tbsp saffron water (liquid saffron)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 limoo amani OR substitute with the juice of 1 lime OR 1 tsp sumac
- freshly ground black pepper
- a small amount of chopped parsley optional
Let's Prep the Eggplants
- Get a large bowl and fill it with cold/cool tap water. Add 1 Tbsp of salt in and squeeze the juice of half the lemon.
- Peel the eggplants. Then slice them into long pieces, about 1cm (just under 1/2 inch) thick. You'll get about 5-6 pieces per eggplant.
- Place the sliced eggplants in the bowl of water. Place a small saucer on the eggplants and weigh down with a can of food, so all the eggplants are submerged in the salted, lemony water. Leave for 20 minutes. While the eggplants are soaking, let's get the beef going.
Let's start the Cooking
- Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat, and sauté the chopped onions for 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic and turmeric and stir for 20 seconds.
- Add the beef and stir vigorously, breaking the mince up, as well as coating it with all those onions. Do this for 3 minutes.
- Add the the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, water and saffron water in. Stir and bring it to a boil.
- With the back of a knife, pound the limoo amani (dried lime), so that it breaks up into 2-3 pieces. Scoop all this up and add to the stew. Don’t worry, the lime will soften and be perfectly edible. Once the stew has come to a boil, reduce the heat right down and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is just cooked. It will still be cooking for another 20 minutes with the eggplants, so don’t overcook it at this stage.
Back to the eggplants
- While the beef is cooking, let’s attend to the eggplants. Rinse and pat dry the eggplants. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each eggplant with olive oil and place under the grill (broiler) on high. Grill for 15 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Set aside until the beef is ready.
Finishing cooking the Khoresh
- When the beef is done, add the eggplants to the stew, bring back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the eggplants are fully cooked and soft.
- Check the seasoning, and add more salt if you think it needs it. Be careful when you stir the salt in, don’t break up the super soft eggplants.
- Add some freshly ground black pepper and top with parsley if you like, and serve with some plain white rice, or some Saffron Rice.