Persian Fried Eggplant Stew, Khoreshte Bademjoon

by Marjan
I heard you! So here it is: my mother's recipe for Khoreshte Bademjoon or Bademjan, which is a classic Persian stew of eggplants! Succulent fried eggplants in a stew of caramelized onions, tomatoes, sour grapes, turmeric and saffron renders a perfect hearty balance to this classic traditional stew. A wonderful vegetarian option excludes braised beef chunks served along Persian Saffron Rice.


With the exception of beef and spices, all the ingredients for this hearty stew came from our garden. There is nothing more satisfying then gathering fresh harvest of eggplants, tomatoes, sour grapes, and onions to make khoreshte bademjan. Traditionally, khoreshte bademjan is made with beef; however, chicken is a suitable substitute. Of course omitting meat all together, this delicious stew is a healthy vegetarian variation.
Next week, I will introduce you to a very similar stew made with fired okra instead of eggplants. If you are like me and are allergic to eggplants (very upsetting to me since I don't like to be limited gastronomically), you will enjoy my recipe for Okra Stew as it is made with similar ingredients and takes less time and preparation.
Take advantage of both eggplants and okra which are now in season.
Noushe Jan!

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1 lb. beef shank with bone ( cut and cube beef off the bone; save bone)
1 1/2 large onion ( or 2 medium size onions); chopped into fine pieces
6 small Japanese eggplants
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups hot water
1 cup unripe sour grapes (sold in Persian super market fresh when in season or frozen or in jars when out of season)
1/8 teaspoon ground saffron
2 organic Roma tomato; sliced into 4 thin slices each
vegetable oil


Peel eggplants, remove top and bottom ends, cut in half lengthwise long. Lightly sprinkle with salt all surfaces and place eggplants in a large colander for 30 minutes. It will sweat out bitter liquid. With a kitchen towel, wipe and remove liquid.
In a large frying pan over medium-low heat, bring to frying temperature 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. Once hot, very carefully add eggplants and fry all sides until golden brown (approximately 6-8 minutes each side). Remove eggplants from oil and place in a metal strainer with a plate under it to drain out excess oil.
In a large, stainless steel deep pan sauté onions in 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil until golden brown; stir frequently preventing edges from burning, delivering uniform caramelized onion. Add turmeric, salt, pepper and tomato paste; stir together all ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Add cubes of beef and bone; sauté for additional 5 minutes until somewhat cooked and brown. Carefully pour 3 cups of hot water. Cover with lid and gently over low heat, simmer mixture to cook for an hour and half. Taste for addition of salt and add if needed.

If serving Persian rice, prepare now following this recipe.

Preheat oven to 320° F. When stew is cooked, add and stir in sour grapes to stew. In a casserole, lay fried eggplants lengthwise to cover entire dish. Remove bone from stew and discard. Using a large spatula, spoon entire stew over eggplant mixture. Gently lift sides of eggplants allowing stew to blend uniformly and for eggplants not to be completely drowned in stew. Place slices of tomatoes over stew, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper; bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Carefully remove casserole dish from oven and serve along Persian Rice.

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