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LOCATION: Recipes >> Middle Eastern >> Stuffed Eggplant 01

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STUFFED CYLINDRICAL EGGPLANTS IN YOGHURT SAUCE
(Sheikl El Mahshi) Lebanese
serves 6

8-12 (2-21/4 pounds) cylindrical eggplants, 4-5 1/2 inches long
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying

1/4 cup pine nuts
2-3 Tablespoons butter or oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup onion, chopped or slivered in thin crescents
1/2 pound ground lamb or beef, coarsely ground if possible
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper(about 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups basic cooked yoghurt sauce (recipe follows)

Wash eggplants. Peel in striped fashion length wise, leaving stems
on. Skin strips will help eggplant to stay together and add visual
beauty to the dish. Heat half the oil in a skillet and fry half
the eggplants on all sides until medium-dark brown and tender.
Repeat with remaining oil and eggplants. drain eggplants on paper
towels laid over newspapers. To make a basic cooked meat stuffing:
Fry pine nuts in butter or oil over moderate heat until medium
brown all over, 5-10 minutes. Shake pan and stir frequently. remove
pine nuts from pan and set aside. If using onion, add to pan and
fry over low heat for 5-10 minutes, until onion is limp and browned
around the edges. Then add meat and fry over moderate heat another
5-7 minutes, until meat loses pink color. Chop up meat well as it
cooks. Spoon off excess fat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and
cinnamon. Return pine nuts to meat mixture. Stir well to mix with
meat and fry 2-3 minutes in order to blend flavours.

In separate pot, heat yoghurt sauce and keep warm. Preheat oven to
400 deg.F. Arrange eggplants in roomy casserole or baking dish with
all the stems facing in the same direction. Slit eggplants carefully
down the center and push pulp aside with a spoon, to make a large
pocket. Stuff with meat mixture. Spoon a tablespoon of hot yoghurt
sauce over each eggplant. Carefully spoon enough sauce around
eggplants so they are surrounded but not submerged. Place in hot
oven and immediately reduce heat to 350 deg.F. Bake for 20-25
minutes, until sauce bubbles and thickens up and eggplants are well
heated. Serve hot with rice.

Variation: Two large round eggplants may be used if you don't have
cylindrical ones. In this case, slice off both ends, peel completely,
and quarter lengthwise. If unwieldy, cut into eighths. Salt pieces
lightly all over and place in a colander for 30 minutes. Pat them
dry and fry in hot oil until dark brown. Slit, stuff, and continue
as for cylindrical eggplants.


Yoghurt Sauce

2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 cups plain yoghurt
1 egg or egg white
1 large clove garlic, crushed (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 -1 tablespoon or more fresh lemon juice (optional)
white pepper to taste

In a small cup, dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons yoghurt. whisk
this mixture into remaining yoghurt. In a heavy pan or double
boiler, begin to heat yoghurt mixture over low heat. Lightly beat
1 whole egg or egg white and gently whisk it into yoghurt. (egg
yolk will colour the sauce, so if you want it pure white, just use
the white.Left over yolk save for other sauces.) Bring sauce to a
simmer, stirring constantly as it thickens up. Cook for 3-10 minutes.
If using garlic, crush and add with salt to sauce. For a milder
garlic flavor, saute crushed garlic in butter before adding yoghurt.
Taste for tartness. add lemon juice and pepper if you think sauce
needs them. Cook sauce for 2-3 minute more. It is now ready to use.

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