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Lamb-stuffed aubergines in sweet-and-sour sauce

This tempting recipe for lamb-stuffed aubergines in sweet-and-sour sauce from the cookbook A Taste of Israel by Nida Degutienė is one of many versions Israeli home cooks have adapted from traditional aubergine-based recipes.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 medium aubergines
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley to garnish
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
400g minced lamb
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
A pinch of chilli flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine or water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 piece stick cinnamon

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Slice the aubergines lengthwise, then carefully make several incisions in the flesh. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange them in a baking dish, flesh side up. Bake for about 20 minutes.

To make the seasoning, mix together all the ingredients.

In a large pan, heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring. After 4 to 5 minutes, when the onion is soft, add half of the prepared seasoning mix and cook until the onion begins to brown. Add the pine nuts and fry with the onions for a minute or so. Add the lamb and tomato paste and sugar. Season with the parsley, chilli flakes, salt and black pepper. Fry for about 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring, until the meat is cooked and starts to dry.

Remove the aubergines from the oven. Using a spoon, press a spoonful or two of the stuffing firmly into the flesh of the aubergine.

To prepare the sauce, mix the wine or water with the lemon juice, honey, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Stir in the remaining seasoning mix. Pour the sauce into the baking dish with the stuffed aubergines. Cover with aluminium foil and place in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 180°C and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove the aubergines from the oven and drizzle with some of the sauce at the bottom of the baking dish. Cover again with the foil and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. If the sauce has reduced too much, add about half a cup of water. After 20 minutes, remove the foil and once again drizzle the aubergines with the sauce. Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until browned.

Serve the aubergines garnished with chopped parsley, covered in sauce, and with white bread, rice or couscous on the side.

This recipe is from the book A Taste of Israel: From Classic Litvak to modern Israeli by Nida Degutienė, published in 2015 by Struik Lifestyle. For more information on the book, click here.

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