Khoresh Bademjan (Braised Lamb and Eggplant)

         Yield: 4 Servings
Categories: Lamb, Meats, Medieval, Iranian

1 md Eggplant; 1 to 1 1/2 pounds 1/4 c Salt 1 ts Salt 3/4 c Olive oil 1 md Onion; peeled and cut into ;1/4 inch slices 1 1/2 lb Lamb shoulder, lean, and ;boneless, cut into 2 inch ;cubes 2 c Beef stock; fresh or canned ;or 2 cups water 2 tb Tomato paste 1/2 ts Turmeric Black pepper; freshly ground 1 md Tomato; cut crosswise into ;4 slices 2 tb Lemon juice, fresh 1 tb Pomegranate syrup; bottled, ;optional With a large, sharp knife peel the eggplant and cut off its stem end. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into quarters, then cut the quarters lengthwise in half to make 8 long strips. Combine 1 quart of water and 1/4 cup of the salt in a shallow bowl or baking dish, add the eggplant and turn the strips about with a spoon to moisten them thoroughly with the brine. Soak at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a heavy 12 inch skillet, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Add the onions and, stirring frequently, cook for about 10 minutes, or until they are deeply browned. Then transfer them with a slotted spoon to a plate and set aside. Drain the eggplant strips through a sieve and pat them dry with paper towels. Heat the oil remaining in the skillet over high heat. Add the eggplant strips and brown them thoroughly on both sides, adding more oil to the pan if necessary. Transfer the strips to a plate and set aside. Brown the lamb cubes well in the same pan, again adding more oil if needed. Then add the stock or water, tomato paste, turmeric, the remaining teaspoon of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, meanwhile scraping in the brown particles clinging to the bottom and sides of the pan. Add the reserved onions, reduce the heat to low, and simmer tightly covered for 45 minutes. Arrange the strips of eggplant side by side on top of the lamb and place the tomato slices over them. Pour in the lemon juice and the pomegranate syrup if you are using it. Cover tightly again and simmer for about 45 minutes longer, or until the eggplant and lamb are tender. Taste for seasoning and serve at once from a deep heated platter or bowl. Khoresh bademjan is traditionally accompanied by chelo. 36 of 116