Stuffed aubergine with lamb and pine nuts

By Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, September 20, 2012
Photo: Jonathan Lovekin

Photo: Jonathan Lovekin

These are deliciously hearty and best served with bread or simple rice and pickles on the side.
Serves 4 generously.

4 medium aubergines (about 1.2kg), halved lengthways
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1½ tbsp sweet paprika
1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
2 medium onions (340g in total), finely chopped
500g minced lamb
50g pine nuts
20g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp tomato puree
3 tsp caster sugar
150ml water
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp tamarind paste
4 cinnamon sticks

Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Place the aubergines, skin-side down, in a roasting tin large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
While the aubergines are cooking, make the stuffing. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan.
Mix together the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon and add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onion.
Cook on a medium–high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked.
Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, remaining sugar, cinnamon sticks and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
Reduce the oven temperature to 195°C. Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the aubergines’ roasting tin.
Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine. Cover the tin tightly with foil and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, when the aubergines should be completely soft and the sauce thick; twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the aubergines with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out.
Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.

Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press £27

Last updated: 12:59pm, September 20 2012