Khoresh Bademjaan (Persian Eggplant Stew)

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Mehregan Mubarik! Today, along with thirty other Persian food bloggers, we are celebrating Jashn-e-Mehregan – the ancient Persian festival to celebrate the Autumn Equinox.

Historically, in ancient Persia, this festival was an occasion to honor the god of justice – Mehr – and to give thanks for the end of the harvest season.

The first thing I think about when the leaves turn ruby-red and my shawls come out of the hidden part of my closet, is a hearty tomato-spiced stew.

Now that the days are shorter and we are beginning to spend more time indoors, the scent of saffron, mingling with tomatoes and cumin, bubbling away on the burner, seems to be the best way to spend a night in.

Aubergine, with its glorious shades of violet is in season right now and one of my favorite ways of preparing it is to incorporate it into a khoresht; a stew.

With its jammy tomato base, all you need to have with this Khoresht-e-Badejmaan is a tahdig – saffron-crusted basmati rice – and creamy strained yoghurt. It seems to be the best way to start a new season and to give thanks for all that we have.

Speaking of giving thanks – I recently became a Canadian citizen and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this country – a country which this Pakistani-Persian-Afghan nomad now calls home.

Khoresht-e-Bademjaan (7 of 1)
Khoresht-e-Bademjaan (5 of 1)
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Before you get to my recipe below, I hope you enjoy reading all the beautiful dishes my fellow Persian food bloggers have put together for Mehregan.

Ahu Eats: Badoom Sookhte Torsh | Sour Caramelized Almonds
All Kinds of Yum: Jeweled Carrot Salad
Bottom of the Pot: Broccoli Koo Koo (Frittata)
Cafe Leilee: Northern Iranian Pomegranate Garlic and Chicken Stew
Coco in the Kitchen: Zeytoon Parvardeh  | Marinated Olives with Pomegranate & Walnuts
Della Cucina Povera: Ghormeh Sabzi | Persian Lamb & Herb Stew
Fae’s Twist & Tango: Rice Meatballs | Kufteh Berenji
Family Spice: Khoreshteh Kadoo | Butternut Squash Stew
Fig & Quince: Festive Persian Noodle Rice & Roasted Chicken Stuffed with Yummies for Mehregan
Honest and Tasty: Loobia Polo | Beef and Green Bean Rice
Lab Noon: Adas Polo Risotto | Persian Lentils Risotto
Lucid Food: Sambuseh
My Caldron: Anaar-Daneh Mosamma | Pomegranate Stew
My Persian Kitchen: Keshmesh Polow | Persian Raisin Rice
Noghlemey: Parsi Dal Rice Pie
Parisa’s Kitchen: Morasa Polow | Jeweled Rice
Sabzi: Ash-e Mast (Yogurt soup with meatballs)
The Saffron Tales: Khorosht-e Gheimeh | Yellow Lentils Stew
Simi’s Kitchen: Lita Turshisi | Torshi-e Liteh | Tangy aubergine pickle
Spice Spoon: Khoresht-e-bademjaan | Saffron-Scented Aubergine Stew
Turmeric & Saffron: Ash-a Haft Daneh | Seven Bean Soup
The Unmanly Chef: Baghali Polow ba Mahicheh | Rice with Fave Beans and Lamb
ZoZoBaking: Masghati | Persian Scented Starch Fudge

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Saffron-Scented Aubergine Stew in the Persian Manner

Author: Shayma Saadat

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 125 g finely chopped onions (approximately ½ a large onion)
  • 1 kg chicken thighs (weight with bone)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
  • 1 tsp saffron threads, crushed into powder in a pestle and mortar, dissolved with two tablespoons of water
  • 300 g chopped tomatoes, including juices (blanched and skin removed)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • neutral oil for frying
  • 350-400 g baby aubergine, quartered (approximately 8-10cm long and 2cm thick)1
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp rosewater (optional)2
  • 8-12 cherry tomatoes

Instructions

  • Place a wide  heavy-bottomed pan, which has a lid, (the one I use is 30cm in diameter)on the stove on medium heat and add oil. Add onions and sauté for ten minutes, till they become slightly golden, but not brown.
  • Turn heat to medium-high and add garlic, chicken, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, saffron water and sauté for five minutes, till the spices are fragrant and the chicken has lost its raw pink colour.
  • Add tomatoes, sprinkle with two tablespoons of water, lower the heat to medium and cover the pan for twenty minutes. (If you feel the tomatoes are sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a few more tablespoons of water and lower the heat a bit more.)
  • In the meantime, brush the flesh side only of your aubergine with a neutral oil (don’t use olive oil, as it has a low smoking point) and transfer to a baking sheet. Place directly under your broiler (skin side down) and allow the flesh to turn bronze. This will take between five-ten minutes. Keep a vigilant eye on them, they can burn easily.
  • Transfer aubergine to the pan at the 20-minute mark, (once the chicken has tenderised), skin side down, and sprinkle with the remaining salt, rosewater and lime juice. If the tomato sauce looks like it has reduced significantly, add more of water. Cover with lid and allow to cook for 25-35 minutes, or till the aubergine is fork tender but still holds its shape.
  • When the stew is still hot, before serving, dot the stew with cherry tomatoes, cover with lid and wait till the skin of the tomatoes wilts a bit (five minutes). It adds an extra pop to the dish.
  • Serve with your favorite fresh herbs strewn on top, tahdig (saffron-crusted rice) and strained yogurt.

Notes

1. You can use any aubergine of your choice, just remember to keep the chopped dimensions in mind.
2. Rosewater can be found in Middle Eastern or Pakistani/Indian grocery stores.

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47 Comments

  1. Your photos. Stunning. Your Dish. Mouthwatering. I love this recipe so much Khoresht-e-Bademjan is one of my favorite dishes of all time. My mom always makes this for us and it’s SO GOOD! Using Korean Eggplant really adds a delicious dimension to it. My mom makes it with red meat BUT chicken is smart too to keep it light. And omg with some good tahdig, this is top 10 all time fav. Bravo Shayma joon.

  2. This looks delicious! I am in love with the wilted cherry tomatoes (I also love to pan roast them and listen to them pop, that’s kind of sadistic, haha) and can almost smell the saffron!

  3. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Oh this khoresht looks divine and you are making me drool!!! This is another one of my favorite khoreshts, but I’ve never added rose water to it. Amazing!

  4. Wow, those are the prettiest eggplants i’ve ever seen. Gorgeous photos across the board, and I love your silk road crossroads perspective.

  5. A great looking dish and must be delicious! Will have to give it a try! Also congratulations on being a Canadian citizen 🙂

  6. Shayma joon – you truly have the ability to elevate anything to an artistic level! I always loved khoreste bademjoon but this looks just magical! The beauty of this group of people is that everybody has a little bit of something or other in them – love learning about your background! Thank you for sharing, xoxo

  7. Shayma – This is just gorgeous and scrumptious looking. Congratulations on the Canadian citizenship. I can also clearly remember the day my family and I became Canadian citizens. We give a little piece of our hearts to every country that we call home.

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  9. Thannk you! It was easy to follow your recipe and the dish turned out so well!! Delicious!!

  10. Looks and sounds delicious. I too love all things aubergine.
    Congratulations on becoming a canuk (hope i’ve spelt it correctly?).

  11. Hello there! This post couldn’t be written much better!
    Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this article to him.
    Pretty sure he’ll have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  12. Shayma jan, If I have not said it before, you have a special gift & talent. So much beauty and achievements. Beautiful Blog. Perfect khoresh’e bademjan! Belated Happy Mehregan! 🙂 Fae.

  13. We make a curry similar to this one, with the addition of curry powder, amchur powder, potatoes, and curry leaves. Minus the saffron. Dish looks terrific!

  14. Wow, I hadn’t visited the site for a while and it looks FANTASTIC! As does this recipe. Incidentally, I have aubergines in abundance AND saffron in the house, so look forward to trying this.

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