4 medium eggplants, halved lengthwise
8 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½ tablespoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 pound ground lamb
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
3 teaspoons sugar (substitute honey to make this Paleo-friendly)
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons tamarind paste (I like to use Noc Me Chua Tamarind Concentrate, usually found in the Asian cooking aisle)
4 cinnamon Sticks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the eggplant halves skin side down in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 5 tablespoons of olive oil and season generously with salt and black pepper. Roast until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly.
While the eggplants are cooking, start making the stuffing by heating the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix together the cumin, paprika, and ground cinnamon, and add half of this spice mix and the onions to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is thoroughly cooked.
Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar, the cinnamon sticks, and ½ teaspoon salt. Mix well.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the roasting pan containing the eggplant. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each eggplant. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, return to the oven, and roast for 1 ½ hours (the eggplants should be completely soft and the sauce thick). Twice during the cooking, remove foil and baste the eggplants with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. Serve warm, not hot.
Recipe adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
Did you know?
Biologically, eggplants are a fruit; they belong to the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Eggplants can be white or deep purple (aubergine). Treat them like bananas; the flesh will turn brown quickly, so cut them right before using. One cup of cooked eggplant contains 25 calories.