Batenjen Mehchi (Lebanese Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant)

Lebanese Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant (Batenjen Mehchi)

Lebanese Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant (Batenjen Mehchi)
Eggplants are stuffed with a mixture of spiced lamb and rice, then simmered in tomato sauce in a rustic, cinnamon-scented dish from Lebanese author Fouad Kassab's mother, Isabelle. During the autumn olive harvest, she prepares it with new-season olive oil from the family's groves. Use smaller-sized eggplants, such as Japanese or fairy-tale eggplants, for this dish. (If you can’t find these varieties, zucchini may be substituted for the eggplant.)James Oseland

Eggplants are stuffed with a mixture of spiced lamb and rice, then simmered in tomato sauce in this rustic, cinnamon-scented Lebanese dish. It comes to us from chef Fouad Kassab's mother, Isabelle, who prepares it during the autumn olive harvest using new-season olive oil from the family's groves. Use mild, small eggplants like Japanese or fairy-tale eggplants; if you can't find those varieties, zucchini may be substituted. This recipe first appeared in our October 2014 issue with the story Home for the Harvest.

Batenjen Mehchi (Lebanese Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant)
Petite eggplants are stuffed with a mixture of spiced lamb and rice for this rustic Lebanese dish.
Yield: serves 6

Ingredients

  • 12 lb. ground lamb
  • 3 tbsp. long grain white rice
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 12 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 14 tsp. ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 24 Japanese or fairy tale eggplants
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried mint
  • 1 (16-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

Instructions

  1. Mix lamb, rice, half each the tomato paste, garlic, onion, and cinnamon, the allspice, salt, pepper, and 34 cup water in a bowl; let sit 30 minutes. Using a paring knife, stem and hollow out eggplants, keeping them whole. Mince flesh and mix with lamb mixture; stuff eggplants.
  2. Heat oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high. Cook remaining garlic and onion until golden, 4–6 minutes. Stir in remaining tomato paste, cinnamon, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes. Add mint, tomatoes, and 1 cup water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and add stuffed eggplants; cook, covered, until eggplants are tender and the filling is cooked through, 30–35 minutes.