Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjan (Vegan Persian Eggplant and Yellow Split Pea Stew)

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A couple of years ago I flirted with veganism. I had started seeing a holistic nutritionist and she suggested a wheat-free vegan diet. Needless to say it didn’t last long…….I missed lamb chops and spaghetti bolognese way too much! But, it did instil in me a respect and appreciation for meat-free cooking and I must admit it was the healthiest I have ever felt.

My mother taught me this vegan version of Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjan years ago when I was having a vegan friend over for lunch and was at a loss as to what to prepare. Rich and  nourishing, this stew combines caramelized onions, eggplant, mushrooms, yellow split peas and aromatic spices in a silky tomato sauce. Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjan is so delicious and hearty that I can guarantee you won’t miss the meat!

Khorest-e Ghaimeh Bademjoon

canola oil
2 medium eggplant or 5 japanese eggplant
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
8 oz cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
4 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 tsp ground saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
juice of one lime
1/2 cup dried yellow split peas
salt and pepper

Cut the top off the eggplant, peel them and quarter them (if using Japanese eggplant just half them).  Put them in a colander and liberally sprinkle salt on them to remove any bitterness. Leave them for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, in a large pot (or Dutch Oven), heat the canola oil over medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and fry for another minute.

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Add mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes until starting to brown.

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Add the tomato paste and fry for one minute. Add the vegetable broth, the split peas, the lime juice and the saffron water. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. When boiling turn the heat down to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Rinse the salt off of the eggplant and pat dry. In a separate non-stick frying pan, heat about 1/4 canola oil over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant in batches until browned on all sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Add more oil if necessary as the eggplant will absorb it.

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Add the eggplant to the stew and simmer for another hour to hour and a half or until the split peas and eggplant are tender.

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When ready, taste and season with salt, pepper and more lime juice if necessary.

Serve with steamed basmati rice. Enjoy!

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Taas Kabob (Persian Beef and Vegetable Stew)

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There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than a bowl of warm stew. That’s exactly what Taas Kabob is: soul satisfying, belly warming, delicious and simple comfort food. A stew of tender braised beef with potatoes and vegetables in a savoury tomato based sauce.

Every Persian has their own version of Taas Kabob. The following is my mothers recipe that I grew up with, but feel free to use this as a jumping off point. We use potatoes and carrots but you can use any vegetables that you desire. In fact, many Persians would make Taas Kabob at the end of the week to use up whatever vegetables they had left in the fridge. You may add peas, mushrooms, fried eggplant or green beans. Fruits such as apples, quince, prunes or dried apricots would also be delicious.  You may use whatever you prefer or whatever happens to be in season.

Taas Kabab
Serves 4-6

3 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 lb stewing beef, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 heaping tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken or beef broth
3 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper

In a large pot (or Dutch Oven), heat the canola oil over medium heat. Fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and fry for another minute.

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Turn the heat up slightly to medium-high and add the beef to the pot. Brown the beef well on all sides, about 5-10 minutes.

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Add the tomato paste and fry for one minute and then add the chicken or beef broth.  Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

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Add the potatoes, carrots (or whatever vegetables you are using), lemon juice and cinnamon. Cover and simmer for another one and a half to two hours.

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Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with bread. Enjoy.

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