Convivencia, February 21, 2004

A Jewish Dish of Eggplants Stuffed with Lamb

Anonymous Andalusian Manuscript, trans. by Charles Perry

Boil the eggplants and take out their small seeds[121] and leave [the skins] whole. Take leg meat from a lamb and pound it with salt, pepper, cinnamon, Chinese cinnamon and spikenard. Beat it with the whites of eight eggs and separate six eggyolks. Stuff the eggplants with this stuffing.
Then take three pots and put in one of them four spoonfuls of oil, onion juice, spices, aromatics and two spoonfuls of fragrant rosewater, pine-nuts, an "eye" of citron [leaves], another of mint, and sufficient salt and water; boil well and throw in half of the stuffed eggplants.
In the second pot put a spoonful of vinegar, a teaspoon of murri, a grated onion, spices and aromatics, a sprig of thyme, another of rue, citron leaf, two stalks of fennel, two spoonfuls of oil, almonds, soaked garbanzos, some half a dirham of ground saffron, and three cut garlics. Boil in sufficient water until it boils several times, and throw into it the rest of the stuffed eggplants.
And in the third pot put a spoonful and a half of oil, a spoonful of cilantro water, half a spoon of sharp vinegar, crushed onion, almond, pine-nuts, a sprig of rue and citron leaves. Sprinkle with rosewater and dust with spices.
Decorate the second with cut-up eggyolks and cut rue and sprinkle it with aromatic herbs; cut an egg cooked with rue over the third pot, sprinkle it with pepper, and present it.

  1. Cut tops off of eggplants, blanch until barely tender in boiling water
  2. Hollow out eggplants. Reserve eggplant innards for vegetarian dish.
  3. Chop up onions and puree in food processor. Separate into 3 equal parts
  4. Strain one onion's worth of puree to get onion juice. Discard the strained puree.
  5. Chop the cilantro coarsely and soak in a few spoonfuls hot water for 15 minutes to make a tea. Strain, reserving the liquid and discarding the cilantro
  6. Remove the lamb meat from the leg bones.
  7. Grind the lamb meat in the food processor.
  8. Mix lamb meat with salt, pepper, cinnamon and Chinese cinnamon and egg whites. Add more spices if necessary
  9. Stuff eggplants with this mixture
  10. In pot one, put 4 tbsp of oil, the onion juice, 1 tbsp of the spices & aromatics mixture, 2 tbsp of rosewater, 2 tbsp pine-nuts, the mint leaves, and sufficient salt and water
  11. In pot two, put 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp murri/soy sauce, 1 portion of the pureed onion, 1 tbsp spices and aromatics mixture, the thyme, fennel, 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp almonds, 2 tbsp chickpeas, saffron, and garlic.
  12. Bring both pots to a boil
  13. Using a strainer spoon, place half the filled eggplants in one pot, half in the other. Cover and steam until lamb is done.
  14. In a third pot, mix 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp cilantro tea, 1/2 tbsp vinegar, 1 portion of the pureed onion, 2 tbsp almond, 2 tbsp pine-nuts. Sprinkle with rosewater and dust with cinnamon. Heat on low to combine.
  15. Cut up hard boiled egg yolks.
  16. Plate mixture from third pot in small containers with some egg yolk on each, and sprinkle with pepper. This is the sauce.
  17. Plate 1 eggplants from each pot per plate, sprinkling cut egg yolk over the one from the second pot, and add the container of sauce.

Spikenard and citron leaves have been omitted here, due to difficulty in obtaining them.

Rue is omitted since it can be toxic to some individuals, including pregnant women and small children, as well as causing dermatological reactions in sensitive individuals.

With the "spices and aromatics" I'm really just guessing-- I strongly suspect that musk, civet, ambergris, storax and/or benzoin are indicated here, but it doesn't say specifically, so I'm going with heavily scented spices that I can get and which should be safe for food.

Because I don't have a source for 'cilantro water' (hydrosol of distilled cilantro), I am substituting an infusion of cilantro.

From the files of Jadwiga Zajaczkowa (Jenne Heise), 2004