Stuffed aubergines with lamb & pine nuts


Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Serves: Serve 4 generously

Once again a success with this ottolenghi recipe. I don’t remember in which article I said, that I discovered a new way of cooking, thanks to this excellent chef. Now I use his books all the time, “Jerusalem – with Sami Tamimi”, “Simple” and “Falastin” are my favorites ones. Since I discovered him, I have never been disappointed with any of his recipes.

The recipe may look complicated to make, don’t be fooled by appearances. It’s as easy and straightforward as preparing a dish of pasta with bolognese. Trust me, this stuffed aubergine is an easy recipe.

So how to make it ?

First roast the aubergines for 20 minutes, meanwhile make the stuffing. The lamb, onion and pine nuts are wonderfully flavoured with cinnamon, cumin, and paprika. Which match perfectly with this kind of meat.

Then the stuffed aubergines are braised in a sweet, sour, tangy sauce. Made with lemon juice, tamarind and little of sugar to balance everything, without forgetting the cinnamon which brings a little heat. 

It may not look the prettiest dish, but it’s so delicious. 

This recipe has a complexity in the taste. Between the spices used to flavor the meat and the sauce which has tangy flavour because it contains the tamarind.

What’s tamarind paste ? What does taste like? With what to substitute the tamarind paste?

The name of tamarind derives from Arabic تمر هندي  tamr hindy, which means “Indian date”.

Is a leguminous tree. The tamarind tree produces brown pod-like fruit that contain a sweet, tangy pulp. Widely used as a flavouring in Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines.

The tamarind tastes very sour, a citrusy taste with a note of sweetness. It’s thick, sticky paste, it has the same consistency as a molasses.

I think in this recipe, you can replace the tamarind paste with the pomegranate molasses or a good quality of balsamic vinegar. 

No excuses to make this warming confort dish.

It has the right balance of meat to vegetable. The aubergine melts in the mouth, the meat is perfectly flavoured and the sauce makes all the difference.

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Stuffed aubergines with lamb & pine nuts

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Total time: 2 hours 05 minutes
  • Serves: Serve 4 generously

The story behind this dish.
Elran Shrefler is the youngest of Ezra and Rachela Shrefler’s nine children, who run Azura, a restaurant in the heart of Machne Yehuda market that serves Jerusalemites traditional Kurdish recipes with a Turkish influence, the area from which Ezra hails. A member of the Slow Food movement, Elran starts work at four every morning and cooks all his food in massive pots on small oil-burning stoves, just as his family has done for generations. His food, long-cooked stews and hearty soups, is ready for the first customers who arrive at around 8 am. It is essentially real fast food — after the long hours of slow cooking, it takes seconds to plate and serve. Elran showed us how to make his stuffed aubergine, Turkish-style, which is our favourite dish at Azura.
This recipe from “Jerusalem” cookbook, is Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi interpretation.


  • 4 medium aubergines, halved lengthways
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium onions, (340g) finely chopped
  • 500 g mined lamb
  • 50 g pine nuts
  • 20 g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 3 tsp caster sugar
  • 150 ml water
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • Salt and black pepper

Method :

  • 1)

    Preheat the oven 200C / 220C fan.

    Place the aubergines halves, skin-side downn a roasting tin large enough accommodate then snugly.
    Brush the flesh with 4Tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and plenty of black pepper.

    Roast for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

  • 2)

    While the aubergines are cooking, start making the stuffing by heating up the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan.
    In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, the paprika and ground cinnamon, add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onion.
    Cook on a medium-high heat for 8 minutes, stirring often, before addinghe lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 tsp of the sugar, 1 tsp of salt and some black pepper.

    Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked.

  • 3)

    Add the water to the remaining spice mix, add the lemon juice, tamarind, remaining sugar, cinnamon sticks and 1/2 tsp of salt, mix well. 

  • 4)

    Reduce the oven temperature to 195C/175 Fan.

    Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine. 

  • 5)

    Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the aubergine roasting tin.

    Cover the tin tightlywith foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, by which point the aubergines should be completely soft and the sauce thick, twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the aubergines with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. 

  • 6)

    Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.
    Serve with some bread or rice.


    Enjoy !!

Tricks & Tips :

  • If you can’t find the tamarind paste, I think in this recipe you can replace it with the pomegranate molasses or a good quality of balsamic vinegar.
  • It’s important to baste the aubergines with the sauce at least twice during the cooking.
  • Add some water if the sauce dries out.
  • I think next time I’ll lightly roast the pine nuts before adding them to the meat.
  • When you stuff the aubergine try to make some pressure with your hand in this way the stuffing airs with the eggplant but do not crush it.


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