What’s not to like about this scrumptious gheymeh bademjan. For most people trying Persian food for the first time, gheymeh is “love at first bite” I’m told. Now, swap the fries with buttery fried eggplants and you have gheymeh bademjan, yum!
Khoresht Gheymeh Bademjan (Yellow Split Peas and Eggplant Stew)
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hour 45 min
Ready in: 2 hour
Yields: 6 Servings
6 tablespoons oil
1 large onion diced
1½ pounds stew beef cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups hot water
6 dried Persian limes pierced with fork or 4 tablespoons lemon juice
For split peas
¾ cup yellow split-peas, picked over, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
½ cup oil
2 large globe eggplants
In a medium deep skillet, heat 6 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, cook for about 5 to 7 minutes or until slightly golden. Add meat, increase heat to high. Cook until all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste, salt, pepper and turmeric. Cook for 5 minutes or until tomato paste changes the color of oil. Frying tomato paste develops a deeper flavor and almost a saffron-like color in the sauce. Add 3 cups hot water, cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour.
While meat is cooking, add split peas and 2 cups water to a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until split peas are tender. Drain and set aside. Split peas used in this recipe are the “slow cook” type available at Middle Eastern markets or online. Regular split peas, found at most supermarkets, tend to cook faster and fall apart in Persian dishes. If using “regular” split peas adjust the cooking time.
In a large skillet, heat ½ cup oil over medium heat. Add eggplants, brown each side for 2 to 4 minutes. Place on paper towel to drain the excess oil.
When meat is fork tender, stir in split peas and limes. Gently arrange the eggplants on top. Cook for 30 minutes or until eggplants are tender. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Serve over basmati rice.
To salt eggplants
Using a sharp knife make a shallow cut around the head of the eggplants and remove the leafy parts overlapping the flesh (optional). Peel eggplants, cut into quarters (cut in half lengthwise, cut each half into quarters lengthwise). Generously sprinkle eggplants with salt. Place in a strainer set over a bowl to catch the drips. Allow eggplants to rest for 1 hour or until you see liquid droplets forming on them (20 minutes if short on time). Rinse eggplants under running water, pat dry with paper towel and gently squeeze to get most of the liquid out. Eggplants are salted prior to frying to pull out the bitter-flavored juices and to prevent them from absorbing too much oil.
To roast eggplants, preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).
Place eggplants in a non-stick roasting pan. Drizzle with oil, coating all sides. Roast, on the lower rack of oven, until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Check every 10 to 15 minutes to flip them over. Globe eggplants soak up less oil when browned in oven.