‘Stuffed dried eggplant’ is one of the most popular dishes of Turkish cuisine. It has a special place among the all stuffed dishes in Turkey. This taste is a gift from our UNESCO award winner city of Gaziantep. To understand the importance of this magnificent taste, first we need to know more about Gaziantep city.
Gaziantep city, which was the most important trade spot of the historical Silk Road route, has been hosting many different cultures for thousands of years and has created a culture of its own by blending these various cultures.
The city itself has more food varieties than most of the countries’ cuisines in the world. The region that Gaziantep city locates called as Mesopotamia. This region has the most fertile soils of Turkey and Middle East. All the biggest civilizations passed through from these soils such as Hittites, Assyrians, Persians, Romans and Ottomans.
During summer time, the locals start to dry eggplants, red bell peppers, green bell peppers and hot chili peppers for selling at the bazaars. More than 50% of the dried vegetables distributes from Gaziantep city to the other cities in Turkey because the weather in Gaziantep city is so suitable for vegetable drying. So when it comes to stuffed dry eggplants and peppers, there is no better place than Gaziantep city.
In Turkey, there are many Gastro Tours organized every week for the visiting Gaziantep city. I, myself, attended a few of them. This may sound funny, but recently many international tour operator companies have started Gastro Tours in Gaziantep city. So if you consider yourself as a foodie, you must see Gaziantep city. It is the Mecca of delicious food. You definitely have to come and visit this magnificent city to taste this amazing cuisine on place.
Stuffed Dried Eggplant
- 18 Dried Eggplant shells
- 300 gram ground (minced) meat
- 150 gram long grain rice rinsed
- 1 liter water to boil dried eggplants
- 1 large onion grated
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp red pepper paste
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 tbsp olive oil (for filling)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon dried mint
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)
Boil the 1 liter water in a large pan and put the dried eggplants into boiling water. Boil them about 2-4 minutes until they get soften. Then place them into cold water in another pan for about 2 minutes. This will help to keep the eggplants color and prevent them to break apart.
Mix onions, garlic, pepper paste, tomato paste, 1 tbsp. olive oil, spices, salt and ground black pepper in a large bowl. Mix them with your hands for a minute and making sure all mix well. Stir the ground meat, pomegranate molasses and rice to the bowl and mix all well. This is our filling.
Pour the 2 tbsp. olive oil to the heavy cooking pan. Spoon the filling mixture carefully into each eggplant and press the filling gently to settle in (do not over fill them because rice expands). Place the filled eggplants up right and line up tightly.
Pour about 2 cups of water (or a little less) over and around the stuffed eggplants. The water should cover half length of the stuffed eggplants. Bring it to the boil then reduce heat, cover and cook gently for 30 – 35 minutes.
Tip: Serve with plain yogurt aside.