This is one of the many eggplant dishes in Persian cuisine, but perhaps one of the most recognizable and popular ones! There is a playful balance of deep earthy eggplant and tomato flavors and the tartness of the sour grapes.
Eggplant and lamb stew with unripe sour grapes
Servings: 4 people
- ½ to 1 cup olive oil for frying eggplants
- 4 Asian style eggplants peeled
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 2 pounds lamb shanks with bone in
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4-6 fresh ripe tomatoes chopped and peeled
- 2 ½ cups of water
- ½ cup unripe grapes *Ghureh
- 4-6 tablespoons verjuice unripe grape juice or 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water
- In a large frying pan or dutch oven heat ½ cup of oil over medium heat and brown the eggplants on all sides, about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Add additional oil as needed. Set aside
- In the same pot, over medium heat saute the onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- Add the lamb shanks and lightly brown on both sides for about 5 minutes. Continue by adding garlic, salt, pepper, and turmeric and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and water, cover and reduce the heat to low and cook for 1 hour.
- Add the unripe grapes, verjuice, saffron water, and stir. Place the previously sauteed eggplants on top and gently push down into the stew. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes over low heat.
- Adjust the seasoning to your taste by adding more salt or verjuice.
- Serve with steamed basmati rice or Persian flatbread.
Can substitute chicken or beef for the lamb. Ghureh is obtained at Persian markets. Though it is an essential ingredient for this stew, you can eliminate it by adding additional lime juice to bring the subtle tartness that is necessary for this dish.