Khoresh Bademjan - Persian eggplant, tomato and chicken stew


Khoresht-e Bademjan - Persian aubergine, tomato and meat stew

Khoresh bademjan or Khoresht or Khoresh-e bademjan (my Farsi is not great - but I can say "thank you" which is "mersi" - ok that's a bit easy - and "khubi" which is "whattup?") eggplant and tomato stew is a traditional Persian dish that can be made with chicken, lamb or beef. It's a comforting and satisfying dish with lots of tasty sauce that's lovely to ladle over rice or dip you bread into. It's also pretty healthy, particularly if you choose a lean sort of a meat! And hold your oil when frying the eggplant. Or be rebellious and controversial like me and bake them!

Apparently eggplant's the potato of Iran, a bit of a staple like potato for us Scandinavians. Potato, you will find, is the potato of Scandinavia. In Iran a lazy person is called a sofa aubergine and something insignificant is small eggplants. No, not really.

But this is true (because Google says so): if they say "A person's eggplant doesn't have a defect", it means the person is perfect for the job. So next time you apply for a job make sure you mention your eggplant doesn't have a defect!

I was going to be out for the evening so I thought this would be a great meal for husband to heat up and eat while watching football. Obviously he would rather eat with me discussing the events of the day over soft candle light and delving into various relationship conundrums of people whose lives are more interesting than ours. But a TV dinner with football and a bottle of beer had to suffice.

Persian aubergine, tomato and eggplant stew with rice

Recipe: Khoresh Bademjan (serves 4)

750 g chicken thighs and drumsticks (bone in)
Vegetable oil
2 large eggplants
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1tsp saffron
1 tsp dried rose petals
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutneg
4 tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups of chicken stock

Peel the eggplants and slice into 1/2cm thick slices diagonally (or whichever way you like). Salt the slices on both sides and place in a colander for about an hour to get rid of the bitter taste. After an hour rinse them thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen towel. The original way to prepare this dish calls for pan frying the eggplant and I'm sure it make the recipe even yummier, but it does add quite a lot of fat into the dish, so I oven roast my eggplant.

So if you want to oven roast the eggplant preheat your oven to 190C. Place the eggplant slices on a large baking tray. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and mix with your hands. Bake for about 30 minutes or until they are soft.

If you want to pan fry, use modest amounts of oil, a griddle pan and after frying pat off excess fat with paper towels.

Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Heat a tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions and fry on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the garlic and continue frying. Crush the rose petals and saffron threads in a pestle and mortar and add them with all the rest of the spices to the onions. Fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the chicken pieces and fry until they are slightly browned on all sides. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan. I don't bother peeling the tomatoes, but if you want to you can pop them in boiling water for a few seconds before peeling and chopping.

Add the tomato paste and continue frying a little while adding a splash of the stock if the pan feels too dry, but the tomatoes should start giving out some of their juice by now. Once the tomatoes have softened a little add the rest of the stock, mix well and bring to boil.

Pour the stew into an oven dish, cover with tin foil and a place in the oven for 30 minutes. Then add the baked aubergines into the dish making sure they are covered in the sauce. Cover and bake for another 15-20 min until the chicken is done and the eggplant is soft.

Serve with saffron rice and flatbread.

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