So before I begin discussing this recipe I have to mention my usual mantra that is common to most of the recipes which are posted on this blog...this is so delicious but also nutritious and incredibly simple to prepare. Also, this is simply a suggestion, not a blueprint. Meaning add or delete ingredients and seasonings as you like. It is, after all, your food.
That said, this is a Lebanese eggplant and chickpea stew. Some refer to this as a Lebanese version of moussaka but personally I don't see the connection. If there had to be a comparison made, I would say that this dish more closely resembles ratatouille or caponatina. But anyhow...
This recipe is sort of large but it is one of those foods, like soup, that actually tastes better the second day. What I really like about this recipe--besides everything--is that the eggplant melts into the sauce giving it a sort silken quality. In this recipe I used canned tomatoes but in the summertime I would likely use fresh. This is also a chameleon of a recipe in that not only can it be eaten as an appetizer (on toast points or with flat bead), as a side dish or part of mezze table, but also as a main course over rice or with a fried egg on it (as I ate it the other night).
For additional Lebanese-inspired recipes, click here.
(Lebanese Eggplant and Chickpea Stew)
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium eggplant, diced
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons crushed hot pepper
2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
1 cup water
1 (28oz. can) crushed tomatoes
2 (15oz. cans) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small bunch mint, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook for a few minutes while stirring, until the onion just begins to brown.
Add the garlic and the diced eggplant. Initially the eggplant will absorb the oil and begin to stick to the pan, it is for this reason you should stir nearly continuously for a couple minutes.
Once the eggplant softens, begins to brown, and releases the oil, add the smoked paprika, salt, hot pepper, and cumin seed. Cook the spices for a minute or two.
Stir in the water, tomatoes, and chick peas. Bring the stew to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer. If it is too thick add additional water. Simmer the stew for 15-20 minutes.
Stir in the mint and remove the stew from the heat. This can be eaten hot, room temperature, or even chilled in the summer months.