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Spicy Stuffed Eggplant with Cilantro-Yogurt sauce

July 15, 2009

I often make this the day after I cook some kind of whole grain, to take advantage of any leftovers. The example I’m showing here uses bulghur, but it’s also great with brown rice (or white rice if that’s your thing). Full disclosure: There’s a similar recipe over at Eating Well, but mine is better.

DSCN0711

(Serves 2 as a main course)

For the eggplant:
1/3 cup bulghur
2/3 cup water
1 large eggplant
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1 small white or yellow onion, finely diced
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp garam marsala
8 oz. ground meat (options: turkey, beef, chicken, bison–my favorite)
2 tbsp tomato paste

For the sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste
1/4 cup finely diced cucumber (peeled and seeded)

1. Make the cilantro-yogurt sauce by combining all sauce ingredients at set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400º.

3. If you don’t have any leftover grains (see headnotes), bring 2/3 cup water to a boil with 1/4 tsp salt. Add 1/3 cup bulghur; cover and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes. If you’re feeling very ambitious, at this stage you can place the bulghur in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess water.

4. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise and deeply score the flesh in a crisscross pattern, but don’t cut through the skin. Next, brush the eggplant halves on all sides with 2 tbsp olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Roast the eggplants on a sheet pan or baking dish (cut side down) for about 25 minutes, until they’re browned on both sides and getting soft. Flip the eggplants over about halfway through the cooking time. After the eggplant is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350º.

5. Make the filling: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook and stir until it is quite soft. Next, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the spices and stir and cook for another 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. Add the meat, stirring to incorporate the onion and spices throughout. Stir and saute until the meat is cooked.

6. Make a little space in the pan and add the tomato paste, allowing it to cook a bit by itself, and then stir it into the filling mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

7. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out the insides, being careful to maintain a half-eggplant-shaped shell. Add the eggplant flesh and the cooked bulghur to the filling mixture and stir to combine. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

8. Spoon the filling mixture into the hollowed-out eggplant halves; pile it up so it looks abundant. You might have some extra filling left over. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the stuffed eggplant halves are completely heated through. Serve with cilantro-yogurt sauce and garnish with extra cilantro if you’re feeling fancy.

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