Eggplant in a walnut and pomegranate sauce

Beirut tonight is in effervescence: it is the week-end for Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration that seals the end of Ramadan. The streets in some neighborhoods are lit up with twinkling lights and everyone is rushing about ordering massive amounts of pastries at the well-known shops in town. I had to stop by one of them, Taj El-Muluk (taj means crown and muluk means  kings) and stare at the pastries on display.

This dish was born out of profound laziness: I wanted to make a delicious but time-consuming pickled eggplant dish  called makdous; I just did not want to spend five days on it.  I had to come up with something that could be made in less than an hour.

NOTE: If you can obtain fresh pomegranate juice, it would make a difference. I got mine at a juice place called El-Intabli, a hole-in-the-wall, but with excellent juices, all freshly-made.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 pounds small eggplants
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 2/3 cups of walnuts
  • one or two kaak
  • 6 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of fresh pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
  • salt, pepper (I used pink peppercorns), to taste
  • 1 red chili pepper

METHOD:

  1. Peel the eggplants. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for a while. Mash the garlic with salt, chop the walnuts and grind the kaak or crackers. Mix the walnuts, mashed garlic and kaak into a paste. Set aside.
  2. Wipe the eggplants clean. Heat some  olive oil (feel free to be generous) and drop the eggplants in the oil; fry gently on all sides until the eggplants are deeply brown and when pierced with a knife feel very soft. Remove from the oil and set on paper towels. Cool them a couple of minutes then using a small spoon and a knife, slit each eggplant and insert a teaspoon of walnut/garlic/kaak mixture into the eggplant. Close the opening gently and place the eggplants in the pot side by side.
  3. Pour the pomegranate juice, a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses and a few peppercorns in the pot. Place the chili pepper in the sauce;  bring to a simmer and let it boil very gently about 20 to 30 minutes, covered first then uncovered for the last 10 minutes. The sauce will get syrupy.
  4. Serve with pita bread either warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: If you have extra stuffing, you can throw it in the pot on the sauce. It will give the sauce a little texture. Kaak is a type of dry breadstick, similar to a grissini covered with sesame seeds; they are sold at all middle-eastern grocers; it can be substituted with a few crackers, preferably wholemeal with sesame seeds.


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43 Comments

  1. Posted September 8, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Joumana,
    This dish looks delicious! I love eggplants. I am going to make it as soon as I see pomegranates available at my farmer’s market.
    Heg

  2. Posted September 8, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I’ve been looking for some interesting new ways to prepared eggplant. The use of pomegranate juice sounds so nice. Hope it was a lovely celebration!

  3. Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Yum! What a great quick dish. I think it’ll have to be bottled juice for me, but I’m sure it’ll be tasty anyway.

  4. SYLVIA
    Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, your delicious recipes hit the jackpot with a huge flavor payoff. Eggplant and pomegranate molasses are like yin-yang thing that go together, this is a powerful meal. Walnuts are truly brain food, since it looks just like the human brain it’s purpose is to support that organ, it contains the highest amount of omega -3 fats of any other nuts. lowers triglycerides, and boosts mood, excellent.

  5. Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    I love this eggplants dish, look really yummy and tasty! gloria

  6. Posted September 8, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    What a delicious dish! I think you did an amazing job of simulating the flavors of makdous but without all the time involved.

  7. Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Interesting and lovely pics as well

  8. Posted September 9, 2010 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    I love your description of Beirut at night, Joumana. :-) I can just picture the hustle and bustle under the twinkly lights. :-)

  9. Posted September 9, 2010 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    Que de saveurs il y a dans ce plat. L’Orient à portée d’assiette, à défaut d’être sur place.
    J’aime ces combinaisons.
    A bientôt.

  10. Posted September 9, 2010 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    Now that is a unique stuffing for eggplants. I have never tried it. I will keep the recipe because I love pomegranate juice too.

  11. Posted September 9, 2010 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    Delicious and fantastic eggplant dish..

  12. Posted September 9, 2010 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    I can only imagine what Beirut is like on this special day. Luckily we have your descriptions to help us imagine :)

  13. Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Hello Joumana. Niyalik that you are still in Beirut. I am sure the atmosphere is great there. My parents are still there too and i can t wait for them to come back. Baing in Middle eastern countries has such a nice and different effect when its this time. Now back to your post….. YUMM! I love makdus and i love this. I have to make it without the walnuts but i am sure it will taste l.o.v.e.l.y!

  14. Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I love just about anything that involves pomegranates. They are kind of my obsession at the moment. As is eggplant. This sounds fantastic!

  15. Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful dish to celebrate Eid with. It must be absolutely bustling today, I’d love to see it. That eggplant looks absolutely delicious.
    *kisses* HH

  16. Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Some amazing eggplant at the farmer’s market right now, but so far all i’ve done is grill it. Will have to shake things up with this, asap!

  17. Posted September 9, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I love your description of Beirut at night. Beautiful! And, I also loved this quick and delicious eggplant dish!

  18. Posted September 9, 2010 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I love eggplants… and this looks absolutely delicious!
    Enjoy Beirut :)

  19. Posted September 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Beatiful and tasty!, thanks for all your great ideas !!

  20. Posted September 9, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    tasty, tasty sauce, joumana! and i love the crunch from the walnuts.

  21. Jagruti
    Posted September 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Liked your info and pics..quick eggplant dish is yummy and tasty! Happy Eid..

  22. Posted September 9, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    I love aubergines (eggplant) but am always looking for interesting things to do with them and this sounds perfect for a lazy supper (and taking the leftovers into work the next day). But I have to ask you … what is “kaak”? (Am I being particularly dense?!) I hope you have a lovely Eid and enjoy your pastries!

  23. Posted September 9, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Sound like a fun celebration. Wow – this dish looks like it has so much flavor.

  24. Posted September 9, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Hey Joumana, your eggplant looks perfect-soft and delicious. Oh, and happy Eid Al-Fitr. I can only imagine all of the wonderful food you’re going to ingest this week;)

    Oh, and I thought about you the other day. I have a question, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about then just dismiss this (smile). Is chebakia made in Lebanon? If so, is it ever done with whole grain flour? I want to make some, but my recipe calls for A.P. flour. I tried just subbing in a whole grain flour-no bueno-it did not work out! Anyway, if you know a baker there that is familiar with this and the possibility of whole grain, I’d appreciate it. I can’t find anything on-line…

  25. Joumana
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    @Stella: I need to figure out what chebakia is first! Do you know any other name for it, or can you describe it to me?

  26. Posted September 10, 2010 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    Great timing – I’m food shopping in Paris today and will look out for pomegranate juice so I can try this. I’ll ask them if they have any kaak too (Rachel – it’s in the last paragraph of Joumana’s post).

  27. Posted September 10, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    An unusual recipe for me to try! Thanks Joumana. I have a lot of aubergines (egg plants) ready in the greenhouse of all sorts of shades (pink, green. white and purple – and stripey). Tgis will be a lovely way of using them up.

  28. Ed Habib
    Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Eid Mubarak to all

  29. Posted September 10, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Brilliant idea of turning a five-day cooking recipe into one that can be done in less than an hour. Great. Love all recipes for laziness. :)

  30. Posted September 10, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    This sounds amazing! I love the idea of walnut and pom sauce!

  31. Posted September 10, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    That dish looks great..love pomegranate and egg plants..wonderful combo..learn something new everytime I visit your site..thanks for the recipe…

  32. Posted September 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I love this. Makdous are amazing, I agree, but in all honesty, I’m not always in the mood for the pickled taste. This looks like a quick and tasty alternative. Hooray for your laziness :-)

  33. Posted September 10, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this one, Joumana.
    I love eggplants and pomegranate juice and this looks like a fantastic way to put them together. I might use pecans instead of walnuts – just because I have just bought a kilo of them!

  34. Posted September 10, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Love the flavors in the sauce. Slurpp

  35. Posted September 11, 2010 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Pomegranate juice and molasses adds such a kick to any dish that I can imagine how yummy this would be. Yet, I don’t think I could make it and be sure I was actually making it how it “should” taste, without eating it first.
    :)
    valerie

  36. Posted September 11, 2010 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Ça me donne des idées pour cuisiner les aubergines, je les fais toujours soit en moussaka, soit coupées en dés et revenues avec d’autres légumes. Merci pour la belle idée!!

  37. Posted September 12, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    This sounds delicious! I’ve been meaning to make a similar recipe, I love the addition of walnuts in this!

  38. Posted September 12, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Is pomegranate molasses the same as pomegranate syrup, which I have finally managed to find? If so I am in business with some of your recipes that I’ve been wanting to try!!

  39. Joumana
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    @TRix: no, sorry; the molasses is sour and thick and made from sour tasting pomegranates; the syrup is sweet and can be diluted with water for a pleasant drink; it is also called syrop de grenadine in Fr.

  40. Posted September 13, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Oh my this treat sounds amazing, I may tell people I spent 5 days putting it together. Cannot wait to sample.

  41. Posted September 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    What a delicious combination. Pomegranates are so versatile and I love how they compliment both sweet and savory dishes!

  42. Posted September 13, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Wanted to drop back in and let you know I totally made this. Sooo delicious. Does my laziness trump yours because I baked the UNpeeled baby eggplants? Didn’t have pom juice, so subbed tart cherry juice. Added some scallions to the filling to make up for a lack of garlic in the house. Excellent recipe. . .I might post my variation on my blog, with a link back to your post here as the inspiration. If that’s ok with you, of course.

  43. Posted October 23, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Such a unique recipe and one that will do nicely with my just picked eggplant. Merci!

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Today’s recipe is a total riff on something Joumana of Taste of Beirut did recently.  Her Eggplant in Walnut and Pomegranate sauce was too tempting to pass up. The first time around, I honored her recipe and it was fabulous. [...]

  2. [...] Levantine Middle Eastern cuisine, it is mainly pomegranate juice (recipe here) and molasses(eg: muhammara, here) that are [...]

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