Spring has sprung and it’s time for a clean-up. Some of my favourite and oldest recipes will be making a come-back on this blog, with fine-tuned recipes and slightly better photos! This recipe is still one of the most popular I have on here, and with good reason. To celebrate my birthday on Friday I invited a whole bunch (10!) friends for dinner, and decided to cook this all-time favourite.
It’s one of only a few dishes I ever repeat cook without changes: lamb-stuffed aubergines a la Ottolenghi & Tamimi, a recipe from Jerusalem. It deserves a new post and new photos. Unlike many of Ottolenghi’s recipes, the list of ingredients is relatively short and everything is easy to come by, yet the marriage of flavours is exotic, heady and fragrant. The house fills with this aroma during cooking, it’s lovely!
This is a really reliable recipe, always delicious and really quite straightforward: you roast the aubergines, cook up the onions and lamb, make a quick and easy spicy sauce and chuck the whole load in the oven.
It also easily doubles up or halves, so if, like me, you’re cooking for a crowd, you can just x2 everything on the list. The only thing I would tweak when doubling up is to use more water in the spice mix, perhaps 600ml in total as you’ll be using several trays rather than one or two to cook the aubergines in, and you need a fair bit of juice in the bottom of each tray.
The below recipe serves about 4-6 people, depending on appetite and what else you’re serving it with.If you’re just having a leafy salad on the side, you may want 1 aubergine per person, but I served this recipe doubled for 11 people and everyone was pretty stuffed, although we did also have a bulgar wheat and spinach salads to accompany the lamb. So it’s up to you!
You will need:
4 aubergines, halved lengthways
500g lamb mince
2 white onions, finely diced
1.5 tbspn smoked paprika
1.5 tbspns ground cumin
1 tbspns ground cinnamon
50g pine nuts
Handful chopped parsley
2 tbspns tomato purée
1 tbspns lemon juice
1 tspn tamarind paste
1.5 tspn sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 – preheat the oven to 220
2 – place the aubergine halves skin side down in roasting tins that fit them snugly. Season with salt and pepper and brush the flesh with olive oil. Roast the aubergines in the oven for 30 mins or til golden brown but not totally cooked
3 – meanwhile make the stuffing. It’s best to do this is two frying pans if you’re making a large quantity (if you’re doubling the recipe). Heat some oil in the pan(s) and add the onion and half of each the ground cinnamon, paprika and cumin, plus some salt
4 – cook the onions til soft then add the parsley, pine nuts, tomato purée and 2/3 of the sugar. Stir well then add the lamb and allow to brown
5 – season the lamb well and cook for about 8 minutes then turn off the heat. It’ll continue cooking in the oven
6 – next, make a spice mix by combining the remaining ground cinnamon, paprika and cumin with the water, lemon juice, tamarind paste, sugar and a little salt. Set aside for now
6 – remove the aubergines from the oven. You may want to re-distribute the aubergines in your trays so that they fit snugly again post-roasting (they’ll have shrunk a bit!). Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the tray and add the cinnamon sticks to the tray too
7 – spoon the lamb over the top of each aubergine and then cover the tray well with foil. Pop in the oven to roast for 1 hr 15 mins, checking halfway through to make sure there is still enough spice mix. If your trays aren’t well covered by the foil it might dry up – just add a little more water to the tray if so
8 – it’s best to serve these not boiling hot, the flavours are more intense and fragrant if it’s been left to cool for 5 minutes before serving