This recipe is an ode to Syria, one of the most beautiful countries in the world, home of wonderful, kind, hospitable, refined people. So much has been published about Syria the last few years, all of it depressing and tragic, but the real Syria is a glorious land, filled with archeological treasures and historical monuments, one of the most delicious cuisines in the Middle East, and amazing people.
Syria will rise again.
This particular dish is a specialty of Hama, a city north of Damascus known for its waterwheels, built in the 14th Century, which allowed the irrigation of agricultural lands through aqueducts.
I had published a recipe for batersh, as it is called, or mutabbal hamawi (mutabbal from Hama), a few years back, but here is another, just because I love this dish, it is so easy to make, and so delicious!
BatershJoumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern September 15, 2021 Main Dish, Meats, smoked, lamb sauce, lamb, beef, other red meat, syrianfood, other red meat, beef, Syrian, eggplant,
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Passive Time: 30 minutes
3 eggplants, firm and shiny, pricked in three places prior to smoking
1/2 cup yogurt (full-fat or Greek)
1/2 cup tahini
3 garlic cloves, mashed with salt (or to taste)
1 lemon, juiced
1 pound ground lamb (fatty and organic if possible)
1 can tomato paste
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
salt, black pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice (more or less, to taste)
2 or more tablespoons of chopped parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds, fried in ghee or oil or roasted in the oven till light brown
- Smoke the eggplants by grilling them on all sides till charred. Make sure to poke them in a few places beforehand so they don't burst. Once they are charred and reduced in size, place them in a plastic bag or in a colander covered with plastic, and let them cool off and drain their bitter juices.Once cooled, peel them off and drain them thoroughly in a colander. Mine were full of seeds so I decided to run them through a food mill to get rid of the seeds.
- Mix the eggplant pulp with tahini first, stirring to mix in the tahini thoroughly, then add the yogurt, then the garlic and lemon if needed. It will depend on the consistency of the eggplant purée, and the taste. Adjust the taste to your liking, and add more lemon juice if the purée is too thick or not lemony enough. Set it aside, covered, while you prepare the lamb sauce. (this step can be done a day ahead)
- Place the lamb in a large skillet and brown it, breaking it apart using two wooden spoons, until the lamb is browned and the size of small pellets. Drain the extra fat, add the tomato paste, the spices and about 3 1/2 cups of water. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes uncovered for the sauce to thicken. Add the pomegranate molasses to taste and let it simmer a few more minutes.
- Assemble the batersh by spreading the eggplant purée in a platter, and carving a deep indentation in the middle to serve as a receptacle for the lamb sauce. Spread the lamb sauce while still warm. Garnish with fried nuts and some chopped parsley if desired, and serve immediately with bread.
Lamb can be substituted with beef
I added pomegranate molasses to temper the taste of lamb, but it is not usually included in the recipe
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