the recipe, written on a very old yellowed card by some relative, was like many (sephardic) recipes — totally unclear about the measurements. much of the time you'd see just the name of the ingredient(s) and it was kind of assumed you knew what to do unless, of course, there was something specific or special about what you were making. over the years, however, this one was deciphered and resulted in the following.
hope you like it — simple, uncomplicated and always good!
berenjena kon kyma (karne)
eggplant with ground beef
serves 3 - 4 people, easily doubled or tripled if wanted
1 medium eggplant
150 g (a little more than 1/4 lb) ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, diced
6 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp (approx) salt
1/8 tsp black pepper (or more) - hot red pepper flakes, too, if you like spicy
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pomegranate syrup*
1 tsp red pepper paste, if wanted
3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 "kupa"/turkish tea cup = 1/2 c water
3 tbsp fried pinenuts & extra chopped parsley for garnish, if wanted
*if desperate or you can't get it, substitute 1/2 tsp molasses + 1/2 tsp lemon juice; it's not the same thing but close enough. try to use pomegranate syrup!
prepare the eggplant —
wash and dry your eggplant. then take a sharp paring knife and, beginning from the bottom end to the stem end, remove a 1/2 inch strip of skin. don't cut too deeply. repeat this every inch or so until you have a striped pattern.
cut the eggplant in approximately 1 inch slices (rounds).
place the eggplants in a wide bowl and sprinkle a lot of salt on them, on each side. cover with cool water and let sit for about 45 minutes.
after 45 minutes, rinse under water and squeeze them dry. repeat and place on a plate with paper towel.
fry the eggplant —
heat a [cast iron] fry pan (if you have one, it's the best way) over medium heat for about 5 minutes. add 2 tbsp oil and fry the eggplant on one side until it is browned. don't burn it. turn them over and add another 2 tbsp oil (or brush the oil on top of the eggplant rounds) and fry until the other side is browned.
place these on a plate and set aside to cool.
make the meat layer —
in the same pan, over medium heat, add another 2 tbsp oil and fry the onion until it is almost browned. add the garlic and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes.
add the meat and fry it for about 10 minutes or until it is cooked.
add the diced tomato and fry the mixture for 5 minutes.
add the spices and parsley and cook it for about 1 minute.
remove from the heat and let it cool a bit while you put the dish together.
assembling your layers —
in a pot with a lid that can accommodate ONE LAYER of the cooked eggplant, place the slices side by side.
add the meat layer on top of the eggplant layer and deglaze your pan.
take 1/2 c of water and place it in the fry pan you cooked the meat in. heat it up and stir it to release the flavours of what you just fried. important: if you burned anything, then just add the water straight to the finished layered dish; don't deglaze your pan or the final dish will not taste good.
add the deglazed liquid to the eggplant and meat layers.
cover the pot with its lid and cook the mixture for 30 minutes over medium low heat or until all the liquid has been absorbed. if you have a little liquid, that is okay.
once cooked, the top of it won't look so nice but once you serve it out, it will look fine :)
serve the finished dish with bulgur pilav or rice or orzo pilav. garnish with fried pine nuts and finely chopped parsley, if wanted.