A long time ago, I left my parents house to study at university in the big city of Amsterdam. My mother gave me a book of recipes as I had already showed signs that I would not be eating pizzas and French fries all the time but actually do some cooking.
In my first student room – a rented room with a family in the Bijlmermeer high-rise area – I built a two-burner bottle-gas kitchen around the sink, using the hot plate of the coffee maker to slowly cook rice. That recipe book from 1981 is still in my collection and one of the dishes I made from it was called Turkish stuffed aubergines (eggplant), that used ground lamb or mutton meat.
Fast forward to anno-now. The vegetable stand at the fresh market in my village of Saint-Germain-en-Laye had some plump eggplants and I bought some.
I did not use the recipe from the old book, after all I had learned in the meantime that it was a Dutch adaptation of a famous meatless Turkish dish called Imam Bayildi – the imam fainted. This is an aubergine dish with herbs and spices and rice that an Imam liked so much that he overate and fainted…
Aubergines are full of minerals and low on calories and fit well in a balanced diet. However, if not cooked properly they tend to soak up oil and then they become caloric bombs.
Here I first tenderised the aubergine meat in the oven (without any oil) and later fried it in a little bit of oil. The meat is beef. My butcher has one grinding machine and he does not want to mix various types of meat in that machine. But then, the French hardly use ground pork as such. They eat it in sausages or buy a prepared version to stuff vegetables like peppers, tomatoes…and aubergine.
- One aubergine (for two, multiply the ingredient for larger numbers)
- 250 grammes of ground beef
- One tin of chopped tomatoes
- One tin of chick peas
- 50 grammes of raisins
- Fresh coriander
- Three cloves of garlic
- Two shallots
- One tablespoon of sumac
- 200 grammes of Basmati rice
- A chicken stock cube
- Water, olive oil
- Salt, pepper
- Aluminium foil
- Take a pan, fill it with a litre of water, bring to the boil, add stock cube, dissolve and set aside.
- Heat an oven to 190 °C.
- Cut the leaves from the aubergine, slice it in two length wise and wrap in aluminium foil, put in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Let it cool, then remove the aubergine “meat” from the skin and cut it up.
- Heat the stock, add the rice and cook slowly for 20 minutes.
- Cut the garlic and onion. Heat oil in a large skillet and add the garlic and onion. Stir.
- Add the meat and stir, add the sumac and stir.
- Add the eggplant and stir, same with tomato and chickpeas.
- Cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly and adding hot water if it dries out.
- Towards the end, add the raisins.
- Drain the rice well, then add to the pan and stir again.
- Add coriander.
- Taste for pepper and salt and serve.