A year ago, I suddenly developed an aversion to eggplants.
I had loved eggplants before and had no problems devouring a lot of them, so it was very puzzling to me why I just did not like to eat eggplants anymore.
Our "failed" eggplant clafouti did not help matters any, but I was thankful that we made it. That dish finally brought to fore why I couldn't stand eggplants: the texture was rubbery and the eggplant had that same taste and aftertaste as an unripe banana.
Now that I know, I set out to rediscover my love of eggplants. We had eggplants in our Iron Chef competition and I liked both versions of eggplants in those cheffy dishes. Eggplants are best when they're smoky, sweet, and mushy-creamy.
Since we did not know which dishes we were going to do for our Turkish entry, I thought it better to be prepared and bought a bagful of eggplants, parsley, and zucchinis, red and green lentils, just in case.
We had to have an eggplant dish in our Turkish food repertoire, seeing as they're a big part of Turkish diet. So, we were debating whether to do Sultan's Delight or this dish with our eggplants. In the end, TS decided to do this mualle because it seemed the easier or faster of the two (we were cooking this dish and others for a get-together) and she wanted to use the pomegranate syrup.
The recipe started with boiling some lentils until softened. I actually pulled them out while still firm because they were going to get stewed with the eggplants anyway.
Then, it was some fancy layering (reminding me of the Moroccan Chicken Tagine recipe).
I mixed together chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, mint, salt and tomato paste. The recipe I used called for banana peppers or any long thin green chile peppers. As I didn't have banana peppers, I substituted one green bell pepper and one jalapeño pepper. It also called for crushed red pepper, which I'm taking to mean as either red pepper paste or hot paprika.
I started with a layer of this vegetable mix, followed by eggplants that I cut into logs, then some of the lentils, followed by more veggie mix.
More eggplants went on top of that, more lentils, and finally, a layer of the rest of the veggie mix. Olive oil went into the sides of the "pile" and pomegranate syrup finished the whole thing.
I brought the mixture -- in this early stage, mainly the olive oil -- to a boil, then lowered the heat to low, covered the pot, and let the stew cook.
It would take longer than one would imagine because of the layering; the eggplant logs at the top were still not cooked all the way through after the 45 minute-mark. But, if one were impatient like me, one could stir the stew to speed up the process. (Of course, one risks the eggplants getting mushed beyond recognition.)
This really was quite an easy dish to make and it was more than the sum of its parts.
Mualle was certainly very "exotic" to us, using ingredients that we don't normally use (lentils, pomegranate syrup). I found it unexpectedly delicious: the eggplants were creamy, the lentils earthy, and the pomegranate syrup just added that special note that completed the whole dish.
This is certainly something that we'll have to make again. Eggplants are spectacular in this dish. It might even convert eggplant-haters.
And guess what? We still have eggplants in the house. So, Sultan's Delight, we have our eye on you!
Recipe used: Almost Turkish Recipes Eggplant & Lentil Stew w/ Pomegranate Molasses
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eatingclub vancouver Turkish
Börek with Beef Filling
Kısır (Turkish Bulgur "Tabbouleh")
Çılbak Köfte (Turkish Bulgur Kofte)
Mualle (Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses)
Etli Biber Dolmasi (Stuffed Peppers with Groundmeat)
eatingclub vancouver in Turkey (September 2010)
Sultanahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) (Istanbul, Turkey)
Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) (Istanbul, Turkey)
Topkapı Sarayı (Palace) Museum (Istanbul, Turkey)
Hierapolis Ruins and Travertines (Pamukkale, Turkey)
We're submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging, a world-wide food blogging event (created by Kalyn's Kitchen, now maintained by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once) with the goal of helping each other learn about cooking with herbs and plant ingredients.
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