The recipe for this dish was generously shared with me by a lady chef who told me that it comes from Tripoli, Lebanon’s Northern coastal city. It is simpler to make than other eggplant and yogurt dishes and just delicious; the eggplant is silky and the cooked yogurt sauce light; the ensemble is divine. Recipe courtesy of Chef F. Hassan.
INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/4 lb ground beef or lamb
- 1 lb yogurt
- cilantro pesto (1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, 4 cloves of garlic, salt, olive oil) optional
- spices: salt, to taste, pinch of black pepper, 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts
- oil, as needed
1. Peel the eggplants; cut into long strips; sprinkle with salt and let them spit out their brown juice; pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1 cup of oil in a large skillet and fry the slices for a few minutes on each sides until golden and soft. Drain on paper towels or dip in a pot of simmering water for one second, then drain on paper towels.
2. Heat one tablespoon of oil and fry the onion till golden; add the meat and brown, add the spices and stir to combine well. Set the meat aside. To cook the yogurt: dissolve one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup of water in a small bowl and mix in one egg white. Add this mixture to the yogurt and stir continuously until the yogurt thickens a bit. Add the cilantro pesto if using.
Assembly: Lay the eggplant slices in an ovenproof dish; ladle the yogurt over the eggplant, then the meat mixture; sprinkle the pine nuts. Serve immediately.
NOTE: You can serve this with yogurt, as is, without cooking it or adding the cilantro pesto.