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EGGPLANT IMAM BAILDI

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SWEET-&-SOUR EGGPLANT & ONION STEW IMAM BAILDI

A classic sweet-and-sour eggplant dish, this works wonderfully as a side dish with any sort of gamey meat. Rabbit and venison would both be fantastic. The cinnamon here is very reminiscent of Middle Eastern flavors, a legacy of the centuries-long Turkish occupation of Greece. In fact, influences come not just from the Middle East, but also from Africa and Italy, because of cultural migrations over time. The Greeks took the flavor profiles from these different cultures and added them to the ingredients that they had naturally on hand, thereby creating dishes that have completely unique identities. If you have any of this dish left over, pulse it briefly in a food processor to make a chutney like spread that is fantastic as a topping for crostini. I like to stir in some raisins or tart cherries, spread on toasted bread, and then top with a little crumbled feta. Because of the preservative qualities of the sugar and vinegar, this dish will last for up to one and a half weeks in the fridge.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword vegetarian,side items, snaks
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 210.7kcal

Ingredients

  • 15 small whole cipolline onions or shallots
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic smashed
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • cups water
  • ¾ cup smooth tomato sauce homemade or store-bought
  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 large sprigs thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
  • tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Blended oil, for deep-frying (50 percent canola or sunflower, 50 percent extra-virgin olive)
  • 1½ large eggplants, sliced crosswise 1 inch thick, then cut into 1-inch chunks
  • If the onions are large, cut them in half. Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the cipolline and garlic, and pan-roast until slightly golden, shaking the pan. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, then add the water, tomato sauce, tomato paste, cinnamon sticks, thyme, oregano, and sugar. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring up to the boil and then reduce the heat. Partially cover the pan and braise gently until the onions are just fork-tender, up to 20 minutes. The juice will be quite thick. Reserve.
  • Prepare a pot of blended oil or deep fryer for deep-frying; heat the oil to 350°F to 375°F. Salt and pepper the eggplant, and deep-fry until nicely browned. Drain on paper towels to get rid of the excess oil; season again with salt.
  • Fold the fried eggplant into the onion mixture and taste for sugar and vinegar. Remove the remains of the thyme sprigs and the cinnamon sticks, if you like. If you prefer not to deep-fry the eggplant, you can sauté thick, round slices in olive oil until golden brown, then drain and quarter them into wedges.

Video

Notes

MY DEEP-FRYING RULES
• Never fill the pot more than halfway with oil, to prevent boilovers.
• Be sure the oil is up to the correct temperature before you begin (if you have a fryer, be sure to maintain the temperature; if you don’t have a fryer, it is critical to use a thermometer).
• Fry in small batches, so you don’t crowd the pan (this lowers the temperature of the oil and the object being fried will become saturated and soggy rather than crisp and lightly fried).
• Between batches, return the oil to the correct temperature.
• If you do have an oil fire, smother it with a towel, not water.

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