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Khoresht-e Bademjan

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Beautiful persian confort food with roasted eggplants and lamb in a fragrant, sweet and sour tomato sauce.

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When learning a foreign language, at what time do you start making up entirely new phrases rather than repeating set phrases you learned by heart? Whenever I study one of the many world cuisine, french, sicilian, mexican, cajun, I look at the ingredients, typical flavor combinations, the cooking methods, all while cooking one traditional dish after the other. But after a while I feel confident enough to make a new dish that feels to me like it could belong in that culinary tradition. No doubt, purists don't accept any departure from canonical recipes with list of ingredients and proportions found engraved in stone by early men probably, but people with a deep understanding of their own culinary tradition realize that for each well-known traditional recipe there are a number of traditional variations, of other similar recipes and that tradition is only invention that succeeded.

Persian cuisine poses a special challenge for me, for it loves very tart ingredients that are sometimes difficult for me to enjoy, such as dried limes or sour grapes. So why force myself to cook it exactly like a Persian if this is too sour for me?

Here is a Khoresh Bademjan stew based on the traditional recipe, but instead of using those oh-so-tart sour grapes, I use raisins and a little lemon to balance the acidity/sweetness balance to my own taste. Persians would probably either use verjuice or the sour grapes.

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Chop the onions and fry until soft in as little oil as you can...

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... add 1.5 tablespoon turmeric...

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... then 1.5 litres of tomato passata/puree.

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Add potatoes cut bite-sized and briefly parboiled or steamed before (or just cook them longer in the sauce if you can't bother).

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Often this recipe is made with beef, with very good results. But I love lamb and wanted to see how it goes with lamb shanks I cooked overnight in the steamer at 65C until the flesh started melting.

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After their nightly ordeal the lamb shanks were very pale and wet, so I quickly browned their surfaces in a very hot pan...

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... before adding them to the pot with a handful of raisins.

Please note that Persians use all sort of very tart fruits in their sauce, and here usually they use sour unripe raisins or just verjuice to achieve a sweet and sour effect. But what if I prefer my sauce to be sweet and not sour? You choose for yourself.

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I add the lamb cooking juices (from overnight) to the sauce ...

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... and this starts looking rather good!

At this stage I add a tablespoon of homemade advieh, one of many delicate spice mixes used in Persian cuisine. Mine was made using 2 part toasted oriental cumin seeds, 1 part cardamom pods (only use the seeds), 1 part cinammon, a good bit of nutmeg and a few rose buds, all ground to a fine powder.

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The oven-fried eggplants from my last article, Frying an eggplant like a Persian Mama. They looked so good I wish I had carefully added them at the very last minute, for most of the eggplants disappeared into the sauce.

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Now here is Uncle Francois' old trick to make painless, tasty and thick sauce. Remove a couple ladleful from the pot, including some potatoes, raising and eggplants with as much juice as possible. drop a pinch of cornstarch or another thickener of your choice, and blitz until smooth. Here the sauce was cold enough for the cornstarch to incorporate fully, if not just dissolve it in some cold water before.

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And back into the pot - done!

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Meat cooked through to my liking - how very unpersian - I cut it down into bite-sized morsels...

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Here is a peek into my new kitchen procedures: Whatever remained from the table is swiftly put in vacuum bags and left like you see on the picture for an hour or so using ice packs removed from the deep freezer (-23C). The food being stretched flat quickly releases its heat and is soon ready to go into the freezer without risking to raise its temperature.

This procedure makes me really good homemade frozen fast-food for when I don't feel like cooking...


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If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!


  • #1
  • Comment by John Iwaniszek
I enjoyed the wonderful home economics lesson at the end!  Tasty AND thrifty!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks John, yes this way of treating leftovers is really hugely beneficial, it creates ready-made home cooked meal, suppresses waste and makes the road to obesity narrower and more winding!

  • #3
  • Comment by Milagritos
Adapting recipes to suit one's tastes is preferable to never attempting a recipe due to it being too sour, rich, sweet, oily, etc. I adapt recipes all the time (including mum's not-to-be-messed-with Chinese recipes) and often find that I prefer the original version, after all. Sometimes tastebuds adapt to new flavours quite quickly! By the way, your spot on Japanese TV was terrific. Didn't understand a word but Japanese facial expressions are the best!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Milagritos! For a decade or so I was always looking for the most serious traditional recipe and "invented" very little, but now I feel more confident to stray away from set recipes and tweak them in a way consistent with their spirit!

  • #5
  • Comment by Wendell
where did you go for the last 6 plus years?  I enjoyed your site for a long time then it just went inactive. I was worried you had abandoned it.  

Looking forward to new posts.

Glad you are back.
  • FX's answer→ I got lost in the kitchen! No worry I just was busy doing other stuff, this kind of blogging takes a lot of time and builds up a gentle pressure to keep coming with new articles regularly. At some point this comes at the expense of other things so I chose not go on a blogging sabbatical.

  • #7
  • Comment by Steve
I don't have a steamer so what can I do?  Why not just slowly braise them in the spiced  tomato sauce for 3-4 hours? I do  so for Greek style lamb shanks in a cinnamon tomato sauce and it works  well.
  • FX's answer→ No problem Steve, a steamer is just one lazy, expensive but surefire option.  Other ways are a small sous-vide setup, a very low oven or, of course, a slow simmering in the tomato sauce. All will yield acceptable to good results in terms of mest texture, but if you find a way of keeping an exact temperature for a very long time, you will get perfect texture every time. But perfect texture is not essential here!

  • #9
  • Comment by Kate
Dear Uncle Francois, as brilliant as always! I almost feel the taste of this sauce!
thank you!
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Kate!

  • #11
  • Comment by Julien
This looks fxing delicious as per usual. Keep the aubergine/eggplant recipes coming please !
  • FX's answer→ Will do!

  • #13
  • Comment by Øystein
Try Persian eggplant omelette - kookoo bademjan! Since you love walnuts, you'll be pleased to know that it includes those as well as the baked flesh of a big eggplant, a big fistful of chopped herbs to your liking (I recommend parsley, coriander and a little mint), turmeric, and leeks or onions, all sautéed together. Original recipes specify tomato slices on top but I think you can omit those. Then pour over an egg mixture with a little flour whisked in to bind moisture and support the frail eggs, like for a quiche, and finish off the omelette in the oven after letting it bubble under a lid on the stovetop until almost set. It's one of my favourite Persian recipes for sure, and it's quick and easy with some bread, salad and olives on the side for a light weeknight supper. And the name is fun to say for an added bonus.
  • FX's answer→ Thanks a lot for the pointer, this sounds really interesting! Is there any way to avoid the dryness of such baked egg dishes (same problem with frittata)?

  • #15
  • Comment by Øystein
I think the key to a juicy omelette is heat. I suspect that it has something to do with the way the egg protein molecules curl up in different kinds of heat - think of a classic French omelette made with vigorous stirring during cooking over high heat, and the country-style omelette which merely lifts the eggs and cooks slower, exposing them to more heat and making it dryer. I personally enjoy the drier, spongier texture of baked omelettes, the vegetables that fill out most of the volume are plenty juicy in their own right.
  • FX's answer→ OK I get it these are different from French omelettes, I'll give it a go!

  • #17
  • Comment by Alejandro
Can't wait to try this out in the weekend, just looks (and almost smells through the screen) delicious!
  • FX's answer→ Good luck then.

  • #19
  • Comment by John
Holy cow you are back! I started reading your website with my (then girlfriend) wife in 2006 while we were in college for recipes to try and make for our date night. The first recipe of yours we tried (and still our favorite) was your Scandinavian sour cream apple pie. We use to visit your website religiously for new recipes and were distraught after your leave of absence. We had a destination wedding in Italy 1 month ago and have been traveling since (known Kyoto). Your website came up in our travels when we decided to take a day trip on the Bernina Express from Tirano into Switzerland and we reminisced about your website remembering your were Swiss. By chance I decided to look at the website once more and am now pleasantly surprised that you are back! Looking forward to following your updates once again like the good old days!

Hope all is well!

John - Long time admirer from Los Angeles
  • FX's answer→ Well thanks John, this is very nice to hear! That Scandinavian sour cream apple pie is the first ever I had found on the Internet the first day I ever browsed...quite an event. Congratulations of the wedding and glad you visited Switzerland! You'll see a number of new articles and more are on the way.

Lovely, just lovely. And don't have to add anything else, do I? ;)
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Christopher!

  • #23
  • Comment by Chefclaude
Che bei regali che ci fai ogni volta, post meravigliosi, foto che sembra di poter toccare il cibo con le dita!
Per favore non stare più così a lungo lontano dal blog, rimani con noi.
Intanto pregheremo qualche dio pagano per la tua salute, che te la conservi a lungo.
Grazie ancora,

  • FX's answer→ Claudio, grazie mille per queste parole gentilissime!

Gosh, you've made me hungry.

I too share your sentiments about the acidity in the ingredients used in Persian cuisine. I find it too sour for me. Whenever I go to the US Pacific, I do pick up some Persian ingredients to bring back home to the Caribbean.
  • FX's answer→ Ah yes the famous Teherangeles must offer lots of opportunities to pick up good quality Persian ingredients! Thanks for your visit Cynthia!

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