Sheikh el mehshi brings Middle Eastern comfort food to your weeknight menu. Creamy baked eggplant stuffed with lamb and pine nuts, topped with herbs and served with Greek yoghurt.
- 12 baby or Japanese eggplants
- 185 ml (¾ cup) olive oil
- 40 g (¼ cup) pine nuts
- 1 small brown onion, finely diced
- 200 g minced lamb
- ½ tsp ground allspice or pimento
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- sea salt flakes and black pepper
- 6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp red Aleppo pepper
- small handful marjoram leaves
- plain Greek yoghurt and coarsely chopped flat - leaf parsley, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C.
- Wash the eggplants under cold water and trim the tip of the stalks. Score the centre of each eggplant horizontally, leaving the tip and base uncut and not cutting all the way through the eggplant. You are creating a gap for stuffing the eggplant later.
- Heat 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplants, in batches and cook until lightly browned and soft. Remove with a slotted spoon and rest (cut-side facing up) on a plate lined with paper towel. Allow to cool.
- Discard the oil from the frying pan and wipe clean. Add the remaining olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring continuously until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add the mince and cook until browned, breaking up any lumps with a back of a spoon. Add the allspice or pimento, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and stir for about 5 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and remove from the heat.
- Using a small spoon, gently open the slit you made earlier on each eggplant. Fill with the mince mixture, then place the eggplants in a deep baking dish, snugly lined up beside one another. Reserve any remaining mince mixture for later use or pour the excess evenly over the top of the stuffed eggplants.
- In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, tomato paste, Aleppo pepper, marjoram, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and 125 ml (½ cup) water. Pour the tomato sauce evenly over the top of the eggplants and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the eggplants have softened.
- Serve the bakes eggplant, topped with a dollop of yoghurt and scattered with parsley.
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Photography by Adam Liaw.