Most people do not appreciate their parents cooking until they have moved out of their house. For me this was not really the case. I knew that my family had a lot of great cooks in it, but the one thing my sisters and myself would never eat was eggplant. For some reason no amount of money was enough to convince us to eat it. I’m not sure if it was because my older sisters didn’t eat it or if it was because I tried it once and hated it but regardless we had a strict no eggplant in our mouths policy. It wasn’t until I was in college that my Mother told me to, “Shut up and eat it, or make your own dinner” that I decided to give this particular dish a whirl. That’s when I started my journey into the wide and purple world of Barney……..I mean of eggplant or batinjan.
For this meal Andrew and I decided to take advantage of being at home in San Diego where our wealth of cooking knowledge lives and have my mom (Najat) teach us how to make a meal. When I brought up the idea of a live cooking class and not a Skype class this time, she was excited. After brainstorming a fun and delicious dinner meal to cook she came up with the idea to cook Kafta Bil Batinjan or meat wrapped in eggplant in sauce with rice.
For this meal you will need:
- 9 eggplants (we had small Italian ones)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2lbs of lean ground beef
- white vinegar
- olive oil
- bullion cube
- tomato paste
My mom started out the meal by cutting the end off the eggplant and then peeling one strip, about an inch wide (an inch of the skin) of the eggplant all the way around it long ways. She then cut the eggplant into ½ inch slices . (See picture below for better idea)
Then she took a baking tray and put a coat of olive oil on the bottom of it, laid the eggplant out and brushed the tops of the eggplants with some olive oil (olive oil helps them not to stick and turns the veggies golden brown in the oven). Next she put the tray into a convection oven on 400 degrees until one side was golden brown. Then she flipped the eggplant so both sides were golden brown.
While the eggplant was in the oven she took the 2lbs of lean ground beef and added
- 1tbsp of black pepper
- 1 tbsp of salt
- and the three finely chopped cloves of garlic (or 1tbsp of garlic powder)
Then she mixed the ground beef until the spices were evenly distributed throughout the meat. Yum
Once the eggplant was golden brown on both sides (soft and easy to roll), we took it out and let it cool. Andrew burned himself because he wanted to try the eggplant immediately. While the eggplant was cooling, we took the meat and made little 2 to 3 inch elongated football shapes out of it. Then we wrapped the cooled eggplant pieces around the meat footballs and laid them on the folded end facing down in a Pyrex pan. After this was done all the meat and eggplant filled the tray and we were ready to make the sauce and the rice.
- 5oz Tomato Paste
- olive oil
- tsp salt
- tsp pepper
- glass and a half of water
- bullion cube
- tbsp of white vinager
For the sauce my mom put the 5oz of the tomato paste into a pot and fried it for 2 minutes with a tbsp of olive oil. She then added a cup and a half of water, salt, pepper, bullion cube, white vinegar. She brought it all to a boil then took it off the stove as soon as it started to boil.
We then poured the sauce all over the Pyrex pan with the meat and eggplant rolls. We covered the pan with tin foil, and put it into the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes with the aluminum foil on. Then we cooked it for about 15 minutes with the foil off to thicken the sauce.
While the food was in the oven we made the rice. My mom makes rice effortlessly, sorry I can’t be of more help on this step. She poured 3 cups of rice into a pot and then filled it with water until the water was about one inch higher than the level of the rice. Then she put about 3tbsp of olive oil into the rice, covered it and cooked it on high for about 20 minutes.
My mom also made a traditional salad of cucumber, tomatoes, onions, dried mint, with a lemon olive oil and salt dressing. So damn good. (my sisters and I use to get into real deal wresteling matches over who got to eat the last of the salad and drink, yes drink the rest of the liquid! I never said we were a normal and well adjusted bunch!)
We had had about 7 people at this dinner party and by the end of the meal, everyone’s plates were completely cleaned off! Needless to say it was a lot of fun to have my mom teach us all how to cook a dish that tasted so awesome!
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, my sisters and I love this dish now. We needed to grow up sometime right?
Oh yea, and as for the wine, we forgot to mention cooking with it. Well, we didn’t really cook with it. We just drank a lot of it and caught a nice buzz. Thank goodness someone was paying attention. Maybe next time we’ll make my special rendition of Mangria?