I admire the Middle-Eastern way of “extending’ meat by cooking with vegetables. In this case, 300g of lamb is perfect for feeding a family of four. I love lamb cooked with Middle-Eastern spices, it’s a marriage made in heaven and this is one of Ottolenghi’s recipes that needs little work and lots of time in the oven. The aubergines are baked before being topped off with browned lamb and a spiced liquid. The dish and sealed and left to slow-cooked in the oven.
We ate it with a side salad, (akin to a Greek salad), with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, onion, peppers, and feta. It just needs a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Truly delicious.
Ottolenghi’s Aubergine stuffed with lamb
A slow-cooked aromatic dish of lamb and aubergine, mostly cooked in the oven, with delicious Middle-Eastern spices.
1 hour 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan). Place the aubergine halves, skin-side down, in an oven-proof casserole large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
Make the spice mix in a small bowl by mixing the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon.
While the aubergines are cooking, make the stuffing by heating the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Add half of the spice mix to the pan, along with the onion.
Cook on a medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, then add the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 7-8 minutes, until the meat is lightly browned.
In the bowl with the remaining spice mix, add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, remaining sugar, cinnamon sticks and half a teaspoon of salt; mix well.
Reduce the oven temperature to 200C (180C fan). Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the casserole with the aubergines.
Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine.
Cover the tin tightly with foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, by which point 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 with a side salad.