Lentil Eggplant Stew With Pomegranate Molasses (a no-regrets recipe)
- 1/2c lentils ( he used ivory lentils, aka urad daal)
- a 1 and 1/2 pound eggplant (or enough eggplants for 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2/3 c olive oil
- 1 med. onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 med. tomatoes, chopped
- 2 green chilis, seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste (we always make my our since such small quantities are needed)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 c pomegranate molasses
Partially peel the eggplant so it has lengthwise stripes, then cut it lengthwise into 4 slices. Score each slice on 1 side in a crosshatch pattern. Cut each slice crosswise into 3 pieces and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand for 1 hour. If this all sounds too complicated, just cut the eggplant into 4 thick lengthwise slices, salt, and let stand.
In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the lentils.
Put 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a deep fry pan with a lid or a stovetop dutch oven. In a bowl, mix the onion, garlic, tomatoes, green chilis, mint, tomato paste, crushed red pepper and 2 tsps of salt.
Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Spread 1/2 c of the vegetable mixture in the casserole and top with half of the eggplant. Cover with half of the lentils and half of the remaining vegetable mixture. Top with the remaining eggplant, lentils and vegetables. Pour the remaining olive oil around the side and over the vegetables, then drizzle with the pomegranate molasses.
Bring the stew to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the eggplant is very tender, about 1 1/2 hours. (We overcooked it a bit this time so we had all the flavour but missed out on the structure/texture of the eggplant).
This stew is great served warm or at room temperature. The flavours are fantastic, the chilis add sufficient heat, and the tang of the pomegranate molasses is pleasing. This recipe will be made again in this house and the next time will include a bit of preserved lemon.